FRISCO - The Dallas Cowboys are coming off a game in which they opposed a relatively immobile Tom Brady, who dropped back 50 times in Week 1 ... and still, Dallas never sacked the Tampa Bay QB.
And that was with DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory in the lineup.
Suddenly, Dallas is down both starting defensive ends, with Gregory on the COVID-19 list and, as of Wednesday's practice at The Star, Lawrence exited practice with a broken foot that will likely sideline him for eight weeks.
"Will be back and ready for war,'' Lawrence tweeted. "Believe it.''
Cowboys Nation can "believe'' ... but the Cowboys now need to plan on playing at the Los Angeles Chargers and beyond that with a short-handed defensive end room.
What does Dallas do next?
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The Cowboys coaching staff believes in young end Dorance Armstrong. And the personnel department believes in Tarell Basham, who signed here as an under-the-radar free agent this spring.
Is it time to let Bradlee Anae play? Azur Kamara has no experience but maybe he can quickly get ready? How about rookie Chauncey Golston? Rookie linebacker Micah Parsons could absolutely play defensive end in the NFL; can that be a chess piece, with Leighton Vander Esch then playing more at linebacker? Fellow linebacker Jaylon Smith is buried on the depth chart but also has some pass-rush skills; could that be a way to get value from him?
As unlikely as it seems, Gregory could still return from the COVID list in time to play this week, and of course he will be back by Week 3. But beyond that - and this includes fanciful notions of some blockbuster trade acquisition - new defensive coordinator Dan Quinn has a huge challenge ahead of him. The Chargers have a powerful offensive line, lots of weaponry and young QB Justin Herbert, who might be even more difficult than Brady to corral.
Tank Lawrence will be "back for war'' eventually. But the NFL schedule pushes on ... without him.