David Chao, MD: Cowboys full of injuries already, Amari Cooper the biggest concern


As the Dallas Cowboys head into the Hall of Fame Game tomorrow, they have more than their share of injuries. No one cares about an extra fifth exhibition game, but when your star QB and top offensive and defensive player are involved, it deserves discussion and analysis.

Dak Prescott’s shoulder issue continues to prevent him from throwing. Amari Cooper’s ankle still bothers him, and he has not passed his physical. Meanwhile, DeMarcus Lawrence is coming off back surgery and just activated off the PUP list.

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At face value, fans seem more concerned about their QB’s throwing shoulder and the back of the star pass rusher. The reality is there should be more concern about the ankle of their top pass catcher. 

Prescott’s shoulder is no longer just day-to-day, as we expected, but he should be back well before Week 1. His fractured and dislocated ankle is still not 100% yet but is serviceable. He should be able to play well when the regular season starts.

Lawrence was just activated off the PUP list. Back surgery is always a concern, but recovery from a discectomy is reliable if one takes the time to rehab and not rush. J.J. Watt had back surgery in July of 2016, rushed back and needed a second surgery. The Cowboys seem to be doing the right thing and not rushing Lawrence back. 

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In my opinion, Cooper is the biggest worry. One would think a simple ankle ‘scope in January would be straight forward, but there are still ankle issues and talk of “bone inflammation” and vitamin D deficiency, which doesn’t make sense. The surgery was to remove bone spurs, which typically involves a six-week recovery timeline. It has been over six months now, and he still has not passed a physical. Why should another month solve the issues completely?

I am not saying Cooper will miss the season or even any regular season games. He has done everything possible and is even trying to play at his lightest weight ever. I am simply observing that this may be something he needs to work through and play with.

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