FRISCO, Texas – It will unfortunately get overshadowed a bit, but the Cowboys actually suffered two brutal losses on Sunday evening.
Moments before Dak Prescott's own devastating injury, Trysten Hill also left the field on the AT&T Stadium medical cart. The second-year defensive tackle was rolled up while defending a screen pass.
"That was a tough injury – particularly how it happened, just trying to pull off that quarterback," said Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy.
The team feared on Sunday night that Hill had torn his ACL, and an MRI confirmed that diagnosis on Monday morning. The injury will end his second NFL season after just five games.
"He's a young man that has so much in front of him, and he'll respond from this," McCarthy said. "But it's hard to see any of your players go down like that. It is a season-ending injury, but we don't quite have his surgery scheduled yet."
It's an especially tough blow for a player who was seeming to enjoy a lot of development in his second season. Hill was used only sparingly, to put it mildly, during a rookie season that saw him regularly on the sideline. McCarthy had high praise for the progress he's made in his second NFL season.
"Trysten has probably been – not being here last year, but coming off of last year's tape and going to the virtual spring, has probably been our most improved defensive player, definitely our most improved defensive lineman," McCarthy said. "I was just so excited about the progress that he was making."
Asked about Hill on Monday morning, Cowboys chief operating officer Stephen Jones noted that this is not the team's first major setback at the defensive tackle position. Six-time Pro Bowler Gerald McCoy was lost for the year during the very first padded practice of training camp, leaving the defense a bit undermanned at the position.
"As you know, we lost McCoy early and both of them played the same spot, the under tackle," Jones said. "But we've got good depth at the position ... and that's sort of what the league is right now. We're having our challenges and we'll accept them and we'll go to work and get better."
The Cowboys do still have bodies at the position, albeit not all of them are suited for Hill's pass rusher role. Dontari Poe and Antwaun Woods typically man the one-technique position. As far as the three-technique, they still have Tyrone Crawford, who had several pressures on Sunday.
This could also serve as a big opportunity for Neville Gallimore. Drafted No. 82 overall back in the spring, it's been an adjustment for the rookie. Gallimore played sparingly in the first two games of the season before he was made a healthy scratch in Weeks 3 and 4. Sunday was easily his biggest workload to date, as he played 22 snaps and had a key pressure of Daniel Jones on New York's final possession of the day.
The Cowboys also have two rookie defensive linemen, Justin Hamilton and Ladarious Hamilton, on their practice report. With Hill done for the year, it will be interesting to see if they look for reinforcements on lean on the depth they already have.