IRVING, Texas – The Cowboys kicked off their mandatory minicamp with some ill-timed injury news, as they revealed they'll be without their most experienced running back and their newest pass rusher for the foreseeable future.
Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said Tuesday that defensive end Benson Mayowa will undergo a arthroscopic procedure on his left knee, while Darren McFadden is just coming off successful surgery on his right elbow.
Neither injury sounds like it will affect the regular season, but it does put their availability in doubt for training camp – which begins in just six short weeks. Garrett said he was optimistic Mayowa might return in time for the start of training camp.
"We don't think it's a serious thing. We think he's going to back in no time at all and be ready for close to the start of training camp," Garrett said of Mayowa. "He's done an excellent job of getting himself acclimated to our team and how we do things."
McFadden suffered his injury in accident at home during Memorial Day weekend. The problem wasn't enough to keep him from practicing last week, but the Cowboys' medical staff discovered that it was a more significant injury than originally anticipated.
"In the physical yesterday it was determined that he has a break in his elbow," Garrett said. "He actually had surgery on that this morning, and he'll be out for at least a couple months."
An absence of 'a couple months' would set McFadden to return sometime in August – in the middle of the Cowboys' training camp in Oxnard, Calif. Garrett was hesitant to get into specifics, but he was optimistic that McFadden won't miss significant time as a result of the surgery.
"I don't want to put too many timetables on it, but the surgery went well. The overarching thing was 'a couple months,'" he said. "We'll see how he responds to everything, but we do anticipate him being back at some point in training camp – possibly being able to play in the opener."
The Cowboys have plenty of depth to offset McFadden's absence, given the acquisitions they made in the offseason. They drafted Ezekiel Elliott fourth overall in the NFL draft, and they added Darius Jackson in the sixth round. They also signed Alfred Morris to a two-year contract in free agency.
The problem presented on the defensive line is a bit more troubling. The Dallas defense is facing suspensions of its top two pass rushers in DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory. On top of that, rookie defensive tackle Maliek Collins broke his foot during the first week of OTAs and is expected to be absent until later this summer.
Mayowa was signed in free agency to help bolster the outside pass rush and had been making a positive impression with the coaching staff. Despite this latest loss, though, Garrett was confident his current group could get by until Mayowa returns.[embeddedad0]
"We've created competitive situations on our defensive line. A couple of these guys have been injured over the course of OTAs and have not been available to us, but we're confident these guys will be back," he said. "We have a couple of situations where we're dealing with suspensions at the outset of the season, but we like the guys that we've put together. We like the competition that's going on out there."