FRISCO, Texas (KXAN) — Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy told reporters on Saturday that he’s “definitely encouraged” by the progress of linebacker Leighton Vander Esch.
Vander Esch, who hasn’t played since the season opener against the Rams on Sept. 14, practiced all week as the team prepared for a Monday night matchup with the Arizona Cardinals. Vander Esch suffered a broken collarbone that required surgery just five weeks ago.
Vander Esch was activated off the injured reserve list last week.
If Vander Esch is ready to play on Monday, he would be significantly ahead of the recovery timetable. The middle linebacker was originally expected to miss six to eight weeks with the injury.
Vander Esch missed seven games during the 2019 season with a neck injury.
The Cowboys could certainly use a defensive boost that a healthy Vander Esch would provide. Dallas ranks in the bottom third of the league in most defensive statistics. Dallas opponents are averaging 34 points a game. Two weeks ago, Dallas allowed the most rushing yards in franchise history when the Cleveland Browns racked up 307 yards on the ground.
The Cowboys will have to contain the running talents of Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray and running back Kenyan Drake Monday night at AT&T Stadium. The Cardinals rank in the top 10 in most of the league’s rushing statistics.