The Dallas Cowboys defense was always a mess. Now, we've reached a point at which you'll need a hazmat suit in order to enter defensive meeting rooms.
Not only are DeMarcus Ware, Jason Hatcher and Jay Ratliff all gone, and not only are Anthony Spencer, DeMarcus Lawrence, Sean Lee and Orlando Scandrick out indefinitely, and not only are Henry Melton, Morris Claiborne, Rolando McClain and Anthony Hitchens missing practice time, but now, talented second-year linebacker DeVonte Holloman has seen his career come to a sudden conclusion.
Holloman, who dealt with major neck issues for much of his rookie season and throughout this offseason, suffered what looks to be a career-ending setback during Saturday's preseason game against Baltimore, according to head coach Jason Garrett.
"DeVonte got information back from the doctors back he visited with regarding his neck and it doesn’t look like he’s going to be able to play football anymore," Garrett said Thursday, per DallasCowboys.com. "It’s in relation to the injury he had last year and he had a similar injury this year. I’ll let him speak more to that. But the information we have doesn’t look he’s going to be able to play football anymore."
Even with Lee out for the year with a torn ACL, Holloman was supposed to be a backup this year. But this is a team that was ravaged so badly by injuries in 2013 that a league-high 41 guys played at least one defensive snap for the Cowboys.
|Departures/injuries on Cowboys defense|
|Player||2013 impact||2014 status|
|DeMarcus Ware||6 sacks, 1 pick in 13 starts||Signed elsewhere|
|Jason Hatcher||Pro Bowler with 11 sacks||Signed elsewhere|
|Anthony Spencer||Missed most of year||Still out (knee)|
|Henry Melton||Biggest offseason signing||Still out (knee)|
|Sean Lee||4 picks in 11 starts||Out for year (knee)|
|Orlando Scandrick||Highest-rated DB (PFF)||Suspended 4 games|
|Morris Claiborne||7 starts||Still out (shoulder)|
|DeMarcus Lawrence||Top defensive draft pick||Out indefinitely (foot)|
|Rolando McClain||Promising late-spring signing||Out of practice (cramps)|
|DeVonte Holloman||2 sacks in 2 starts||Out for year (neck)|
And since injuries haven't exactly been on their side thus far in 2014, it was safe to assume that the 2013 sixth-round pick was going to get plenty of work among a shaky linebacking corps featuring unreliable veterans like McClain and Bruce Carter, as well as the relatively unproven Kyle Wilber.
After all, Holloman has the type of playmaking ability the Cowboys love. The 23-year-old South Carolina product flashed that last year at this time, recording a pick-six in his first preseason game. He'd add a pick and a sack later in the preseason and had a pair of sacks while starting in place of the injured Lee for the final two weeks of the regular season.
"He has done a great job as a young guy," Lee said of Holloman last year at this time, according to Rainer Sabin of the Dallas Morning News. "He knows how to play the game. He’s got instincts. He’s got ability."
And he rose quickly enough that the 'Boys felt comfortable using him as their top backup, both inside and outside. Now, though, Holloman is yet another skilled Cowboy who will only count toward the payroll and not the stat sheet.
This might not be the most crippling loss of the summer for Big D, but it doesn't require the biggest straw to break the camel's back. At some point, this is just too much to handle.