Cowboys' Amari Cooper expected to play vs. Vikings, Leighton Vander Esch set to return from neck injury

They would've liked to have him on the field against the New York Giants, but it turns out the Dallas Cowboys made the right decision to keep Leighton Vander Esch on the sideline in Week 9 as he battled the residual effects of a neck stinger suffered two weeks prior against the Philadelphia Eagles. It was the first game Vander Esch has missed in his young NFL career, and if there's to be a second down the road, it won't be when the Vikings march into town for "Sunday Night Football".

A limited participant in practice this week, the stiffness has subsided greatly in Vander Esch's neck, and his range of motion has improved over last week. When asked if he foresees the second-year phenom returning to the field this week, owner Jerry Jones was unequivocal in his reply.

"Oh, yeah. I do," Jones told 105.3FM the Fan on Friday. "He's practicing and he's feeling better. No one has been champing at the bit more and [is more] anxious to get back out there than he [is]."

The same goes for three-time Pro Bowl wideout Amari Cooper, who left the contest with the Giants' due to a knee injury, but returned to cap his night with a 45-yard touchdown catch-and-run. Cooper underwent an MRI this week as a precaution, and the results revealed no structural damage -- the injury being described as a bruised knee. After sitting our practice on Thursday, Cooper was limited on Friday, but fully expects to start against Minnesota.

Jones concurs, and passionately.

"[Cooper's] MRI or his assessment of where he is right now would give him a total clean bill of health if we were drafting him tonight or signing him tonight," he said. "And, so, let's get that straight. [When Cooper refers to it as 'manageable'], I'm sure he's referring to his ability to execute at the level that he does. Now, nobody puts anymore torque, nobody puts anymore pressure on ligaments or his body than Cooper does in terms of the velocity that he's moving around out there with. 

"So, that's a big statement when he says it's workable."

It's the third injury Cooper has battled in 2019, having already nursed plantar fasciitis and a thigh bruise that knocked him out of the loss to the New York Jets after only three snaps, but he's not missed a game this season. With another big test staring at them in Week 11, the Cowboys are pleased to know his streak won't end Sunday. 

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