Cowboys lack depth to handle injury tests

October, 18, 2012
10/18/12
9:29
AM ET
IRVING, Texas -- Injuries happen all across the NFL. So far the Cowboys’ depth has been tested and will continue to be tested with DeMarco Murray out this week at Carolina if not for longer.

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The Cowboys will not have their projected starting defense in Oxnard, Calif., play a snap together in the regular season because of Barry Church’s season-ending Achilles’ surgery. The Cowboys’ projected starting offense in training camp has yet to play a full game together because of Phil Costa’s injury in the season opener and Murray’s injury at Baltimore.

Depth is a precious thing and the good teams are able to survive. The New York Giants can overcome injuries. So can New England, Green Bay, Pittsburgh and some others.

Are the Cowboys good enough to survive?

Whenever Jerry Jones decides to shut the window on the core of this group it won’t be solely because Tony Romo, Jason Witten, DeMarcus Ware, Jay Ratliff and some others got old. It will be because Jones failed them by not delivering a middle class, so to speak.

This roster has been top-heavy for too long, but that is why you hear so many people talk about “how talented” the roster is. They never dig beyond the top 10 players. At the top, it is talented. In the middle and bottom, it’s soft. The draft classes of 2007-09 should comprise a major part of this roster as they hit the primes of their career. Seven drafted players make up this roster.

That’s beyond abysmal and it should only get worse next year.

The Cowboys should keep Anthony Spencer, but his recent pectoral injury raises some questions. Will Felix Jones and Mike Jenkins be back in 2013? How about Victor Butler and John Phillips, from the Class of ’09? The other two drafted players from that time frame are Doug Free and Orlando Scandrick.

It’s quite clear the Cowboys do not want to play David Arkin (fourth round, 2011) at all. If Phil Costa (undrafted free agent, 2010) cannot overcome a minor knee injury and Ryan Cook’s hamstring does not improve, then Arkin is the center. Need we mention the offensive line misses through the draft in recent years?

Danny McCray is a terrific special teams player, but he is forced to start in Church’s absence. McCray shouldn’t be playing full time but the Cowboys missed on three safeties in the '09-10 drafts and have to hope Matt Johnson (fourth round, 2012) can play soon.

The last three drafts have been better with at least three quality players coming from each class, but that’s not enough to fill in for the failings of the earlier years.

Todd Archer

ESPN Dallas Cowboys reporter

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