Jayron Kearse and several other Cowboys starters are taking the opportunity to make sure they're fully healthy for what will be a pivotal season in Dallas when 2023 gets underway
FRISCO, TX — As is often the case for NFL players at the start of the offseason, the weeks immediately following the conclusion of their respective season become a perfect opportunity to get fully healthy for the upcoming offseason program; and the Dallas Cowboys are no exception to this norm.
To that point, several Cowboys have either already gone under the knife, in varying degrees, or are scheduled to do so.
Michael Gallup, who returned in the first half of the 2022 season from a torn ACL suffered in December 2021, underwent minor arthroscopic surgery on his right knee and right ankle — the aforementioned torn ACL having occurred in his left knee.
Gallup struggled to consistently impact games last season as he had in seasons prior to the ACL tear, playing in 14 games but grabbing only 424 receiving yards and four touchdowns on 39 receptions. His latest procedures combine with no setbacks in his left knee and a complete offseason of healthy training, however, to likely put him on track to get back to top form in 2023.
Joining Gallup in having arthroscopic surgery to start the offseason was starting offensive tackle Tyron Smith, and also on his knee.
Smith suffered a devastating injury in August in which his hamstring became detached from the back of his knee, but was able to find his way back to the field in December and avoiding season-ending injured reserve, while becoming a key reason the offensive line injuries — e.g., Terence Steele's torn ACL — didn't completely derail the Cowboys at the time.
The future Hall of Famer is no stranger to working through injuries, unfortunately, but owner Jerry Jones expects Smith will return in 2023 and in full health, barring an unforeseen decision by the 32-year-old in the near future.
Two other starters, namely Malik Hooker and Jayron Kearse, are on the mend as well, looking to surgically repair a dislocated thumb and a shoulder injury suffered on Thanksgiving, respectively, Kearse having also played a large part of the season with an MCL issue in his knee that initially cost him several games.
Both are key to what Dan Quinn does on defense, playmakers at the safety position, one that often sees Kearse operate as a hybrid.
All mentioned are expected to be a full go for training camp, if not much sooner, and that includes linebacker Luke Gifford, though his may require a bit more recovery time. The special teams ace — one who showed his value on the linebacker depth chart as well in 2022 — underwent core muscle surgery to prepare himself for a healthy 2023.
Gifford, 27, quietly had his best season as a pro, impacting both special teams for John "Bones" Fassel and defense for Dan Quinn whenever he was called upon in the absence of Leighton Vander Esch in December.
It's an offseason of healing for the Cowboys, in more ways than one.