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Dallas' Damone Clark: How 'Fate' - And Spine Surgery - Brought Rookie LB to Cowboys

"I’m not mad about it. I’m just happy they found it and Dallas still picked me. I’m happy to be here.’’ - Damone Clark.

FRISCO - Maybe "fate'' is what you make of it.

Damone Clark could chose to look at "fate'' as having robbed him of a chance to be a second-round NFL Draft pick, of making more money and more impact more quickly. His spinal-fusion surgery, coming one month ahead of the selection process, could've been a "Why me?'' moment.

Instead, the Dallas Cowboys rookie chooses to eye "fate'' from another direction.

“My family is big on faith and big on Christ,’’ Clark said. “Everything happens for a reason. When I found out I was shocked, but I couldn’t even cry. I couldn’t even be mad about it because I know everything happens for a reason.

“I’m happy they did find it.’’

"They,'' as it turned out, was a team of doctors working at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis who discovered a herniated disc that would require surgery. Dr. Andrew Clavenna, one of the Cowboys team physicians, was the point man.

It was the Cowboys - the same team that would end up drafting the LSU star in Round 5 - who were forced to inform him of his condition.

“I was shocked,’’ Clark said. “I was like ‘Whoa, maybe you all got the wrong person.’’'

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Damone Clark- Spinal Surgery

Little wonder Clark would think that. He's never missed a game in his football career, but now he is likely to miss the 2022 NFL season while in rehab.

The Cowboys have stated they "absolutely'' believe he could get on the field this year. For now, Clark is on the practice field but avoiding contact, mostly just trying to mirror the footwork of his teammates who are fully practicing.

Clark said he doesn't want to “think too far down the line'' regarding a timetable. And coach Mike McCarthy did the same.

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“I understand the excitement and all of that, but I think learning from Leighton’s situation, there’s a timeline,’’ McCarthy said. “He won’t play too early, I’ll say that. ... It just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to try to go too fast. He’ll be getting plenty of time to heal.’’

Clark also mentions the road traveled by Cowboys linebacker Leighton Vander Esch as part of the reason he believes landing with Dallas is "fate.''

“That’s what made me even more comfortable is because I know Leighton had the same injury and Leighton is back on the field playing, and still playing at a really high level,’’ Clark said. “My confidence level is just so high.''

Vander Esch did indeed undergo a similar surgery. He's sure to bond with Clark, who says the Cowboys have already embraced him like "family.''

“I know they won’t put me in harm’s way,’’ he said. “Whenever they tell me I can go and if I feel good, I can go. ... I’m not mad about it. I’m just happy they found it and Dallas still picked me.

“I’m happy to be here.’’

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