The Dallas Cowboys lost more than their first game of the 2020 season on Sunday night. Amid a 20-17 defeat at the hands of the Los Angeles Rams, the NFC East favorites saw two different starters -- tight end Blake Jarwin and middle linebacker Leighton Vander Esch -- exit early due to injuries, and it doesn't appear that either one will be back anytime soon.
Vander Esch was the first to exit due to a collarbone issue, and the Cowboys have confirmed the former All-Pro suffered a broken clavicle. The linebacker, who did not return after leaving halfway through the second quarter of Sunday's loss, required surgery for the injury, but there's a bit of a silver lining to the dark cloud surrounding Vander Esch. The Pro Bowl linebacker was deemed to have suffered a clean break, sources confirm to CBS Sports, and could miss only 6-8 weeks. That would see him potentially return before mid-season, and help the Cowboys in a potential late season run toward the playoffs.
Jarwin, on the other hand, is reportedly done for the year after suffering what's feared to be a torn ACL on a non-contact play. The Cowboys plan to have the Jason Witten successor undergo an MRI to confirm the diagnosis, but all signs point to Dallas losing their new No. 1 tight end for the remainder of the season.
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Vander Esch, of course, has a noted history with injuries. He insisted in the lead-up to the 2020 season that he was "not worried anymore" about several bouts with neck injuries, but he's now set to miss extended time for the second time in two years. A nerve-related neck issue sidelined him for seven games in 2019, and Sunday night's injury forced longtime reserve Joe Thomas -- who was already filling in for Sean Lee, who's on injured reserve -- into first-team duties.
At TE, the Cowboys could be forced to look outside the organization for reinforcements, especially considering how much of a role Jarwin figured to play as one of Dak Prescott's top pass targets over the middle. In the meantime, No. 2 Dalton Schultz will likely be in line for additional reps.