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Cowboys at Chargers: Coach McCarthy's 'Here We Go Again' Trap

Does a dark cloud again hover over The Star?

FRISCO - Coach Mike McCarthy knows not to step into the trap.

"I don't feel that way," McCarthy said when asked if his Dallas Cowboys, tormented this week by bad news, might fall into a "Here-we-go-again'' mindset. "I don't get that sense from our players at all."

Last year's 6-10 season was, it could be argued, pockmarked with just that sort of thinking, and maybe it's understandable. Dak Prescott's ankle injury was a football tragedy; the death of assistant coach Markus Paul was a literal tragedy.

A dark cloud hovered over The Star.

Along comes 2021, and right on the heels of a "moral victory'' in a Week 1 loss to the reigning Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Bucs have come a series of unfortunate headlines.

Wide receiver Michael Gallup is placed on injured reserve with a calf strain. 

Right tackle La'el Collins is suspended five games for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy.

Defensive end Randy Gregory is gone from practice all week after being placed on the COVID list.

Assistant coach Leon Lett gets tangled up with a blocking sled and is carted off the practice field with a quad injury requiring surgery.

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Defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence is moved to IR for two months with a broken foot sustained in Wednesday's practice.

Woe is us?

"The reality of it is, this is how it goes year-in and year-out,'' McCarthy said. "It's just a matter of how many ... The injuries are so personal to the individual. But in the team concept and the team environment, we're focused on who's the next guy up, the opportunities.''

Who are the next men up? Cedrick Wilson at receiver. Terence Steele, most likely, at right tackle. And a cast of many to fill in for Lawrence and Gregory (who is not officially ruled out yet for Sunday at the Los Angeles Chargers).

McCarthy and staff really have two tasks here. 

The "easier'' one? "From a coaching perspective,'' he said, "we just want to make sure we put these guys in position to be successful."

The harder one? After a "woe-is-us'' sort of week, it's not about players' bodies are in the right place. It's about making sure their heads are.

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