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Key Players On Track to Return for 'Boys vs. Brady


It appears the Cowboys are gearing up to welcome the cavalry for their wild card clash against Tom Brady and the Buccaneers, with three starters trending toward a playoff return

FRISCO, TX — It's time for the Dallas Cowboys to wash the putrid taste from their mouths created by a woeful 26-6 loss to a Washington Commanders team that was experimenting at quarterback, sat several starters and had nothing to play for other than bragging rights.

But as they start to turn the page to Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on NFL Super Wild Card Weekend, they do so knowing help is on the way.

It's a cavalry of starters, three specifically, who have a great chance at returning to the field for the start of the playoffs — Leighton Vander Esch, Johnathan Hankins and Tyler Biadasz all trending toward suiting up on Monday, Jan. 16 at Raymond James Stadium.

Mike McCarthy is "very optimistic" about their status.

"I feel good about [them]," said the Cowboys head coach . "They looked very positive today, so we'll see where they are on Wednesday, but their arrow is pointing up."

It's an expectation owner and general manager Jerry Jones has stated and restated over the past couple of weeks, and one Executive Vice President and Director of Player Stephen Jones reiterated himself on Monday morning.

"That's our hope right now," he told 105.3 FM the Fan. "You never know once you get them out there practicing, if you have a setback or something but, right now, I think our trainers feel good about where they've progressed up to this point, and they're ready for them to work back into practice this week and get ready to go play the Buccaneers."

And so it goes that, barring any setbacks or aggravations to their injuries — a pinched nerve on Vander Esch, a pectoral injury on Hankins and a high ankle sprain on Biadasz — the Cowboys "feel good" about the chances of seeing their starters at middle linebacker, nose tackle and center, respectively, back on the field to try and advance to the NFC Divisional Round for the first time since 2018.

For his part, Vander Esch himself noted last week he's "feeling good" and "ready to go".

The team also opened the 21-day practice window last week on interior offensive lineman Matt Farniok, who also acts as backup center to Biadasz, giving him a very real opportunity at getting back in the action after landing on injured reserve in Week 8 due to a hamstring injury. His depth would help allow the Cowboys to make sure that should Biadasz go down again, assuming he returns this week, that there won't be a required shift right for Connor McGover and Tyler Smith.

The less shuffling across the offensive line, the better.

It's all very promising, considering the issues created by the absence of each player on both side of the ball, and it'll be all hands on deck as the team attempts to do something they've never once done in the history of the franchise but, this time, with the season on the line:defeat Tom Brady.

To achieve that mission, it's all hands on deck in Dallas.

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