IRVING, Texas -- The injuries to the linebacker corps means the Dallas Cowboys have to insert rookie DeVonte Holloman to the strong side replacing Justin Durant. Veteran Ernie Sims replaces middle linebacker Sean Lee while Bruce Carter will maintain the weakside spot but will make the defensive signals.
Holloman is the biggest question mark for Sunday's game against the New York Giants because he's projected to make his first career start in the base defense.
"Well, he’s an inexperienced player," coach Jason Garrett said of Holloman. "He hasn’t played that much for us. But when he’s played, he’s done some good things, you know, as a special teams guy, spot play on defense. Has a good instinct for playing. Seems to be around the ball and makes a lot of plays."
Holloman, a sixth-round pick from South Carolina, impressed the coaching staff in training camp and made the roster as a special teams player. In Week 1 against the Giants, Holloman recovered a muffed punt that led to a Cowboys' score. Holloman got some spot duty on defense in Week 3 at St. Louis but was mainly a special teams player after that.
But Holloman suffered a spinal contusion in practice which cost him four games. Holloman thought he could return quickly, but when notified about the seriousness of the injury, realized it could take some time.
"We certainly have been very patient with his injury," Garrett said. "We certainly would never put him out there if he wasn’t capable and ready to play. Our medial staff does a great job with that in his case, and in any of our players’ cases."
The Cowboys haven't officially announced Holloman will start Sunday but he's working with the first-team defense in practices and has looked pretty good.
"He's had some good practices, both last week and on Monday," Garrett said. "We feel good about where he is physically. We’re going to let him go. We’re going to let him practice and see how he responds."