against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the season opener.
Expect the challenge to be even steeper against the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 2.
Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence suffered a foot injury during practice on Wednesday. Lawrence underwent imaging for further evaluation on Wednesday afternoon, revealing a fracture, three people with knowledge of the results confirmed to USA TODAY Sports.
Lawrence’s recovery timeline is estimated at six to eight weeks, a person with knowledge told USA TODAY Sports.
The people spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the medical information.
But Lawrence’s loss comes as a major blow for a team hoping to rebound from a historically bad defensive season.
The Cowboys struggled to slow Tom Brady in a 31-29 loss to Tampa Bay last week, registering zero sacks, just two hits and scant pressure. They hoped to engineer a more powerful pass rush in Week 2 against Justin Herbert and the Los Angeles Chargers. The first blow to that goal came when starting right defensive end Randy Gregory tested positive for COVID-19. Gregory is fully vaccinated but still not expected to clear league protocol in time to play, head coach Mike McCarthy said Wednesday morning.
La’el Collins to a five-game suspension and starting receiver Michael Gallup to injured reserve for at least three games as he heals a calf strain.
Lawrence’s extended absence brings further gloom for an organization counting on him to bounce back after Dallas hired coordinator Dan Quinn to revert to a scheme that better suited Lawrence’s talents. The Cowboys did not expect an elite defense in Quinn’s first year, but Lawrence was to be relied upon for the defense to make enough impact to complement a high-octane offense.
In 97 career games, Lawrence has amassed 45.5 sacks, 305 tackles, 16 forced fumbles and 93 quarterback hits. He compiled 25 sacks in two seasons from 2018-19.
Lawrence flashed that playmaking talent punching a loose ball out and forcing a fumble from Buccaneers running back Ronald Jones last week. He’ll now need to wait before further showing the “attack” mindset he touted leading into the opener.
Lawrence tweeted Wednesday evening after receiving test results.
“Will be Back Ready for War,” he said. “Believe it.”
Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Jori Epstein on Twitter @JoriEpstein.