FRISCO, Texas –If it's one thing DeMarcus Lawrence is no stranger to, it's managing pain. The two-time Pro Bowler missed 10 games in 2021 with a fractured foot suffered in the Dallas Cowboys season opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but returned as a force for Dan Quinn and the defensive unit in December.
In 2022, as the team prepares to visit Kirk Cousins and the Minnesota Vikings this weekend, Lawrence made an early appearance on the injury report with a foot injury - leading to questions on if it's a matter of grave concern.
For his part, Lawrence says it isn't, mirroring the sentiment of head coach Mike McCarthy this week, but also admits there's more he's dealing with than his play reveals on a weekly basis.
"I got a little injury with the foot - both feet, actually - my knees," said Lawrence. "It's just all about just trying to maintain what I have but also take care of me throughout the week, so I can be fresh to go out there on Sunday and do what I need to do."
The former All-Pro has been relegated to rehab duty during Wednesday's walkthrough and Thursday's padded practice, but made it clear he's playing against the Vikings – having yet to miss a single game this season.
"Of course," he said.
There's an inherent balance a player must strike when/in deciding between playing through ailments in the moment versus remaining available for the long-term, and it appears Lawrence and the Cowboys have found such balance - hence the rest this week when there's a third game in 12 days set to arrive on Thanksgiving when the New York Giants come to town.
"My Heavenly Father blessed me with hard times, so I know how to prepare through these times over the course of my career," Lawrence said.
Connected to last year's broken foot?
"Yea, it does connect with last year's injury," he added. "I just think over the [course] of the season, just all the banging and stuff, [might've] fractured it a little bit more. I'll be alright. I got screws in it, so it's hard to say if it's fractured or not."
Lawrence is currently tied with Dorance Armstrong for third-most sacks (5) on the team, has the second-highest disruption rate for Dallas behind only Micah Parsons and is continually one of (the?) best run defender on a unit that desperately needs to resolve that issue outside of him.
To be this productive, and continuously available, in the face of such adversity is a mindset that can easily separate an NFL challenger from a Super Bowl contender.
"Right knee hurts worse than my feet," said Lawrence. "So it's like I'm dealing with so much right now and just trying to stay focused on the task at hand and go out there and win a football game."
Bottom line: he'll worry about getting healthy in the offseason. Right now, though? There's a playoff bid, and possibly more, on the line.