Bills at Cowboys Inactives: No Heath, and Dallas Spotlight Shifts to Rookie Trysten Hill

Mike Fisher

ARLINGTON - The Dallas Cowboys defense will be short-handed today in its meeting with the visiting Buffalo Bills, with the spotlight shifting to top rookie Trysten Hill's chance to finally do something on the big stage.

The Cowboys have ruled out linebacker Leighton Vander Esch and defensive tackle Antwaun Woods for this Thanksgiving meeting here at AT&T Stadium. Safety Jeff Heath (shoulders) was going to try to play. ... but we're told the Dallas medical team shut that down.

So the inactives for Dallas are: Vander Esch, Woods, Joe Jackson, Brandon Knight, Devin Smith, Cedric Wilson and Heath.

Heath was listed as "limited'' from practice this week as he deals with injuries to both shoulders - with one of those shoulder problems having been re-aggravated when he made a big hit in last week's loss at New England. He exited the game only briefly, but continues to be in obvious discomfort. Darian Thompson and rookie Donovan Wilson will take on added responsibility.

Vander Esch has a lingering neck injury. A source tells CowboysSI.com that Dallas hasn't "closed the book'' on Vander Esch returning to the field this year, but "cautious optimism'' might be the best way to phrase his situation.

Dallas can survive the absence of Vander Esch due to the presence of Sean Lee. But making up for Woods, the run-stopping tackle, out with a sprained knee? Young journeyman Christian Covington will get the start. But the younger Trysten Hill, the second-round pick who was Dallas' top selection in the April NFL Draft, will be active and in the rotation, too.

The Bills are versatile on offense, but between runners Devin Singletary and Frank Gore and mobile QB Josh Allen, Dallas' ability to plug up their rushing game is key.

Which means for the first time all year, Trysten Hill might have to be key, too.

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