By Nick Shook
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The Cowboys‘ defense suffered another serious blow on Saturday night.
NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reports linebacker Anthony Hitchens suffered a tibial plateau fracture in his right knee and will be sidelined eight weeks, per a source informed of the situation. The news is better than previously expected as it was thought to be a season-ending injury.
The Cowboys do have some insurance with Hitchens sidelined for significant time, listing veteran linebacker Justin Durant behind Hitchens in the two-deep. Durant didn’t play Saturday but is expected to be ready to play in Week 1. There’s also the presence of Jaylon Smith, who continues his long road back from a major knee injury suffered in January 2016. Dallas likely won’t change Smith’s course out of necessity, though.
Dallas re-signed Durant last season after the linebacker’s stint in Atlanta, and retained him going into 2017 for these types of situations. How much the Cowboys will have to lean on the veteran remains to be seen as we await the medical evaluation of Hitchens.