In Jones’s place, the Cowboys will send out rookie Trevon Diggs. He is a rookie with plenty of promise in pass coverage but is a liability in tackling. Quinn’s spot will be handled by Cowboys’ veteran defensive lineman Tyrone Crawford. He only played in four games for the Cowboys in 2019, dealing with a hip injury that eventually required surgery.
And then there is that small matter of the offense, running with center Joe Looney. He’s not terrible, but he’s no Travis Frederick. The Cowboys will promote Blake Jerwin to take over for Witten, rookie CeeDee Lamb to fill the hole made by Randall Cobb, and the jury is still out over who will fill in for Austin’s small but speedy role.
Wounded Cowboys just as vulnerable as other teams
The Cowboys will suit up Cameron Erving at right tackle to take over for injured La’el Collins, and Alson Smith to take over for Lee at the strongside linebacker role. You may recall that Aldon Smith last played in the NFL in 2015, and was subsequently suspended from the league indefinitely for substance abuse. He was reinstated in May 2020. A former standout for the San Francisco 49ers, his production dropped off considerably in 2014. Will he be a factor? Likely not at the level that so many believe.
If you worry about the LA Rams facing the Cowboys running game, keep in mind that 40 percent of the 2019 offensive line won’t suit up for the opener. Nor will their most productive receivers. For the Rams, the team will have 250 percent more of their starting offensive line. And the absence of Jones, Quinn, and Jones in this opener is much bigger than anyone is saying.
Should the Rams respect the Dallas Cowboys? Absolutely. Should the Rams fear the Cowboys? Absolutely not. Should the Cowboys respect the Rams? Yes, but nothing I’ve seen leading up to this game suggests that is the case. Respect will be earned by the Rams this year. It starts in game one.