DeVonte Holloman Injury an Underrated Blow to the Cowboys Defense

Brad Gagnon@Brad_Gagnon NFL National ColumnistAugust 21, 2014

Dallas Cowboys' DeVonte Holloman (57) walks over to the practice field after doing some rehab work during an NFL football organized team activity, Monday, June 2, 2014, in Irving, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

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
Player2013 impact2014 status
DeMarcus Ware6 sacks, 1 pick in 13 startsSigned elsewhere
Jason HatcherPro Bowler with 11 sacksSigned elsewhere
Anthony SpencerMissed most of yearStill out (knee)
Henry MeltonBiggest offseason signingStill out (knee)
Sean Lee4 picks in 11 startsOut for year (knee)
Orlando ScandrickHighest-rated DB (PFF)Suspended 4 games
Morris Claiborne7 startsStill out (shoulder)
DeMarcus LawrenceTop defensive draft pickOut indefinitely (foot)
Rolando McClainPromising late-spring signingOut of practice (cramps)
DeVonte Holloman2 sacks in 2 startsOut 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.