IRVING, Texas - Even though the Dallas Cowboys came away from Sunday's game against the Arizona Cardinals with a 34-13 victory, they paid a significant price for the victory.
Starting outside linebacker Al Singleton is most likely gone for the rest of the season with a fractured right clavicle, while defensive backs Anthony Henry and Willie Pile suffered groin injures and defensive end Jay Ratliff a sprained ankle.
Cornerback Jacques Reeves also has a slight ankle injury, although Parcells said he doesn't think Reeves will miss significant practice time. Ratliff was seen in the Cowboys locker room Monday wearing a walking boot on his right ankle.
Singleton and linebacker Scott Fujita had been rotating series at the left outside linebacker position for the past several games, and Fujita is the most likely candidate to move into the starting job. But Cowboys head coach Bill Parcells said there hadn't been a personnel meeting yet, so it was too soon to assume anything.
Singleton has been a key part of a Cowboys defense which currently ranks fifth in the NFL.
"What do we miss (with Singleton out)?" Parcells said. "A good veteran player. I don't have a lot of experience at that position. That was one guy I could kind of rely on to be there."
Although Parcells did discuss the possibility of bringing in some linebackers to work out for the Cowboys, he appeared fairly hesitant to commit to signing a free-agent linebacker. He said the team had four healthy outside linebackers on the roster in Fujita, DeMarcus Ware, Kevin Burnett and linebacker/end Eric Ogbogu.
However, the Cowboys aren't as deep at other positions, and the injuries to Henry and Pile could complicate an already thin defensive backfield.
If Henry's injury ends up being serious, and Parcells he wouldn't know the extent of the injury until Thursday, he would likely be replaced in the starting lineup by Aaron Glenn.
Pile's injury would present a larger personnel challenge, as Pile is the only true safety on the roster to back up starters Keith Davis and Roy Williams, and the other player who has been practicing at safety is the nicked-up Reeves. Should Pile be forced to miss playing time, the Cowboys would likely be on the market for another back-up safety. That decision will affect whatever they do or don't do at linebacker.
Although the Cowboys suffered a slate of injuries against the Cardinals, the game also marked the return of a significant name on defense and a step closer to the return of two offensive weapons.
Linebacker Dat Nguyen played his first game in four weeks against Arizona, mostly in the Cowboys nickel and dime packages as he registered one tackle.
"Dat played in the 20s, number of plays in the game, and he did OK," Parcells said. "I talked to him after the game, and he said he felt pretty good."
Nguyen's confidence following the neck injury had been the primary concern the past few weeks. The veteran didn't have any structural damage to his neck, but Parcells had said he didn't feel Nguyen felt he was ready to return to the field.
Another lingering injury for the Cowboys is the high ankle sprain that's sidelined running back Julius Jones, who injured the ankle late in the first half in a win over the Eagles and has been very limited in practice and unable to cut on the injured leg.
But on Monday, Parcells said he was hopeful Jones would be ready to join the team again soon.
"I think (Jones) should be pretty close to being ready to go," Parcells said. "But I don't know. We'll see . . . Let me see where he is Thursday, and I'll give you a better idea. We're not going to practice real hard this week, so hopefully he'll be able to get out there and do something. I'd like to be able to get more than three or four practices with him before we play, get back in tune."
Parcells also said he was confident Jones would return to 100 percent by the end of the season.
Patrick Crayton was also in the locker room Monday, still wearing a walking boot on his right foot but moving without the aid of a crutch.
He said he has been riding the stationary bike in practice and could be cleared to get rid of his protective walking boot in as little as a week.
Under Allen's Wing
Left tackle Torrin Tucker, who was given the starting job after Flozell Adams tore his ACL against the Giants, has been getting help from one of his veteran teammates as he adjusts to the starting role.
"I give Larry Allen a lot of credit here, because he's got Tucker on a choke collar right now," Parcells said. "He really does, and it's a great thing to see. Now he's quiet in his own way, but as soon as Flozell got hurt, he changed Tucker's meeting room seat to right next to him."
Parcells said the change in seating arrangements meant Allen was communicating constantly with the third-year tackle, something necessary for Tucker, who had never played on the left side in the NFL.
The coach also gave Tucker credit for being open to Allen's advice, saying Tucker was "grown up enough now" to listen to Allen and be adaptable to the situation, a maturity that had been lacking in Tucker's first seasons with the Cowboys.
Both Tucker and rookie right tackle Rob Petitti earned praise from Parcells for their performance against the Cardinals.
"I thought they played pretty well," Parcells said. "Not perfect, but pretty well. I thought they hung in there. Now that Berry, that's a test. He's one of the best guys now. I was talking to them after the game, and I told them he's a pain in the (butt), cause he is."
Bye Week Travel
When their bye week came around Oct. 3 of last season, Parcells gave his players Sunday and Monday off in an attempt to keep them in the Dallas area and out of trouble.
This year, Parcells has given the Cowboys Tuesday and Wednesday off, and some of the players said they had flights to catch as they traveled home for a few days.
"I try to caution my players about doing things," Parcells said "I don't ever give them three days in a row off. They're not going to get three days in a row. So if they're going to go somewhere, they're going to have to do it in about a day-and-a-half, because they have to be back"
- Let's hear a little best of Bill from this Monday:
- "You go ahead and give the state of the union. I don't really have any state of the union to give." - to a reporter asking for a halfway point state of the Cowboys address.
- "Like I said, we have a little tendency here in Dallas to anoint. I think the anointing oil is a little more prevalent here than in some other parts of the country." - on considering Marion Barber more than just a promising rookie.
- "I was looking at Rackers, visualizing that." - on what he was doing when rookie kicker Shaun Suisham was struggling during warm-ups in his NFL regular-season debut.
- "What about (the bye week)? It's America now. You can go where you want." - when asked about his players leaving town this week.
- "Win about three or four more in a row, and I would start to get my ears up a little." - on what would get his excitement level up.
Suisham was 2-for-2 on field goals against the Cardinals but struggled in warm-ups. Parcells said he hadn't decided if he would bring in other kickers for workouts . . . The players may have Tuesday and Wednesday off, but the coaching staff will be at Valley Ranch. Parcells said they will use Tuesday to watch film of the Detroit Lions and Wednesday to look at the Denver Broncos, who form the back end of stretch of three games in 11 days . . . Marcus Spears has officially been tabbed as the starting left end, according to Parcells, who praised the rookie for his improved play against the Cardinals . . . When asked about tying Paul Brown for ninth place on the NFL's all-time coaching wins list, Parcells replied, "Yeah, it means a lot if your name is linked to Paul Brown in any manner."