Cowboys COO Stephen Jones summarizes the fluid roster situation with a dose of reality and a bucketful of hope.
"We think we can obviously improve ourselves here on the defensive side of the ball," says Jones via 105.3 The Fan. "But we've got to work with what we have out there, and I know we'll do that. And we've lost a couple tough ones here, but we'll rebound."
You watch the above video from season's start featuring owner Jerry Jones' Tony Romo-based enthusiasm and ... you hope the Cowboys can somehow hang onto ... or maybe recapture ... that mood.
Lost is running back Lance Dunbar, out for the season after sustaining a torn ACL in Sunday's OT loss at New Orleans. But another player sidelined that night, linebacker Sean Lee, is expected to pass concussion protocols and be available to play against the New England Patriots on Sunday at AT&T Stadium.
"He'll go through all the protocol and hopefully the severity is not significant here and pretty confident here he can go through all the steps and hopefully be ready to go against the Patriots," Jones said.
The last time Lee had a concussion was on Dec. 19, 2010 at home against Washington. Lee was listed as questionable the next week at the Arizona Cardinals on Dec. 25, but the Penn State alumnus found a way to play.
Whether Lee goes or not, the Cowboys will be getting reinforcements in the front seven as defensive end Greg Hardy and linebacker Rolando make their 2015 debuts coming off four-game suspensions. Both standouts joined the team on Monday, with Dallas releasing linebacker Keith Smith and defensive tackle Ken Bishop to make room. (The Dunbar injury opens up another roster spot, but the Cowboys indicate they won't necessarily chase another running back, opting to go with the beleaguered Joe Randle, Darren McFadden and Christine Michael.)
"Lance was a weapon for us and we tried to use him as a weapon in a lot of different ways to impact our offense and impact the game," coach Jason Garrett said. "To say we have someone in house who is going to do those same kinds of things, I don't know that we have somebody like that, but we have guys in house who can do different things and hopefully we'll play to those strengths."
Meanwhile, while the club waits on Tony Romo's return (hopefully Nov. 22 at Miami) it seems Brandon Weeden will stay atop the QB pecking order. Dallas has been using Kellen Moore as the No. 2, with newcomer Matt Cassel working to catch up.
Dez Bryant and Randy Gregory represent two other reinforcement candidates. Gregory, the rookie pass-rusher, might have to wait until after the bye (which follows the Patriots game) but Garrett said the team will give him a look this week. And Bryant was examined late last week,'' according to Jones, and "there's been no setbacks," he said, adding that there's a "real shot" the All-Pro receiver could play after Week 6 bye against the New York Giants.
The overall mood for the 2-2 Cowboys? It is hoped Garrett is right when he says simply, "Next man up.''