FRISCO, Texas — It's no secret the Cowboys are battered and bruised as they begin their preparation for Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 2. They'll obviously be without two-time Pro Bowl quarterback Dak Prescott for the foreseeable future (thumb), and you can add starting left guard Connor McGovern, safety Jayron Kearse and defensive end Tarell Basham to a list of four key players who'll be sidelined this coming Sunday.
McGovern and Kearse were effectively ruled out on Monday by head coach Mike McCarthy due to a high ankle sprain and knee sprain, respectively, but tests were still being conducted on Basham at that time.
On Wednesday, McCarthy officially ruled him out of the coming fight with the Bengals.
As it pertains to the Cowboys pass rush, the depth they enjoy at the edge will aid in trying to replace Basham, so expect more reps to Dante Fowler and rookie second-round pick Sam Williams - the latter expectation now confirmed by McCarthy.
The reigning Ole Miss record holder in single season sacks and First-Team All-SEC talent was active in the 19-3 loss to the Buccaneers in Week 1 but logged only six defensive snaps (10%), a number that stands to increase considerably for as long as Basham remains sidelined with injury. Fowler had a similar fate regarding his snap count in the season opener, taking the field for only 10 defensive snaps (16%).
As it stands, it's unclear what Basham's timetable for return might be or if he's in consideration for a possible stint on injured reserve, though that's something to keep an eye on.
The same applies to the prognosis on McGovern and Kearse, but it's likely Matt Farniok to take the lead at left guard against Cincinnati unless Jason Peters is deemed ready to take the field, at which point the Cowboys might entertain a change or two on their offensive line, a point driven home by owner Jerry Jones on Tuesday morning.
But, if Peters isn't ready, there might be a call-up in the wings for any one of the other four offensive linemen currently populating the team's 17-man practice squad - i.e., Alec Lindstrom, Isaac Alarcon, Dakoda Shepley and/or Aviante Collins.
As for the safety unit, sans Kearse, the onus will be on second-year talent Israel Mukuamu and impressive undrafted rookie free agent Markquese Bell to share the load and potentially make an impact in a role dominated by Kearse after both were relegated to the inactives last week despite delivering impressive training camps and preseason outings.
And so it goes that, combined with execution and penalty concerns, there is much for the Cowboys to figure out as they try to avoid the dreaded 0-2 start to the season - adversity on all fronts having arrived for them very early in their 2022 campaign.