Dallas Cowboys rookie defensive end Demarcus Lawrence suffered an ankle injury at practice yesterday after battling against franchise left tackle Tyron Smith in a drill, and he needed to be helped off the field. Todd Archer of ESPN Dallas reports that x-rays revealed a broken foot for Lawrence, and his timetable for recovery is currently set at 8-10 weeks.
It’s a massive blow to the Cowboys defense, which already lost Sean Lee for the season earlier. Lawrence was set to start as a rookie with 2013 starter George Selvie likely setting up shop across from him, but it now looks like Jeremy Mincey will slide in his place for a couple of months with plenty of competition from sleeper DE Tyrone Crawford.
The Cowboys were very high on Lawrence on draft day, trading up to snag him in the second round instead of waiting for raw Missouri Tigers 4-3 DE Kony Ealy to fall to them (he would fall to the Carolina Panthers at the tail end of the round). Lawrence has all the physical tools to be a dangerous pass rusher in this league, as he wowed off the edge at Boise State. He’ll probably be the team’s most effective pass rusher even as a rookie, thanks to his talent, Rod Marinelli, and the faith the Cowboys have in him.
Although it’s a big blow to lose Lawrence for 8-10 weeks, the bright side is that he isn’t out for the season and should still be effective once he comes back. However, losing him for most of training camp and all of the preseason hurts, because it hinders his development under Marinelli, and this is important for a tools-y rookie pass rusher. This injury won’t cause it to be a lost season for Lawrence, but it could hurt his ability to make a bigger immediate impact. The Cowboys pass rush was already iffy, but it’s going to be filled with even more question marks with Lawrence out for a bit.