Cowboys' Xavier Woods suffers high ankle sprain vs. Redskins, could miss 4-6 weeks

Heading into their Week 2 confrontation with the Washington Redskins, the Dallas Cowboys were one of the healthiest teams in the NFL. That is no longer the case, though, as although they escaped FedEx Field with a 31-21 victory -- it wasn't without consequence.

Defensive lineman Antwaun Woods is now listed as day-to-day with a minor MCL sprain and his compatriot Tyrone Crawford is also being monitored with a hip ailment, but the headline on Monday was the injury to wide receiver Michael Gallup -- who is expected to miss 2-4 weeks after undergoing arthroscopic surgery to trim a torn meniscus in his knee. Joining Gallup on the sidelines and in the headlines will be safety Xavier Woods, who suffered a high ankle sprain against the Redskins. 

Woods will be absent for 4-6 weeks, per Tom Pelissero of NFL Network. 

While the injury to Woods itself was confirmed by owner Jerry Jones in his Tuesday interview with 105.3FM the Fan, the timeline is something he shied away from pouring concrete on. For Jones, he feels Woods could very well return sooner than later. 

"You had it right until you said 'serious'," Jones said of the injury. "We'll evaluate it as the week goes along. He's young. He might be able to move on it pretty good at that position. Some positions have a tougher time -- defensive linemen and those sorts of things. 

"...Only the Guy Upstairs knows how much time he's going to miss."

Jones' point is that it may be easier for Woods to return quickly from a high ankle sprain given he doesn't play a position that requires a ton of pushing off (i.e., running backs, linemen, etc.), and would prefer to simply monitor the progress of his talented young safety with the team making an ultimate decision once they gauge his ability or inability to move on the bad wheel. The Cowboys haven't yet ruled Woods out of the coming Week 3 battle against the Miami Dolphins, although a source confirms to me it is likely he'll sit out that contest -- at minimum.

Having lost out on their bid to land Minkah Fitzpatrick via trade, they'll turn to veteran Darian Thompson if Woods can't take the field on Sunday afternoon. The Cowboys will also have the option of shuffling bodies at the third defensive level that could involve Jeff Heath seeing time at free safety -- something he's done before in Woods' absence -- to allow rookie Donovan Wilson to join him on the field, or a tandem of Thompson plus Wilson with backup Kavon Frazier mixed in. They've also reportedly met with former second-round pick Josh Jones this week, per Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, opening the door for a potential signing of the former Green Bay Packers safety as they ready themselves for a potentially lengthy absence of Woods.

As far as the obvious goes regarding Jalen Ramsey trade rumors, don't count on the Cowboys making a move there, and for good reason. 

Aside from Ramsey declaring in 2018 that he'd never play in Dallas as long as Jerry Jones is owner, he's also entering an offseason that will ultimately make him the highest-paid cornerback in NFL history. The team was interested in Fitzpatrick because he's not only young and also a former first-round pick (2018), but they could've had him under his rookie deal for the next four seasons when factoring in the fifth-year option. They'd have no such leverage with Ramsey who, again, doesn't want to be in North Texas anyway; and who Jones alluded to when noting on Tuesday how the Cowboys have to "be careful" they don't acquire outside talent that "prevents them" from keeping a key piece of their current roster.

Additionally, Ramsey isn't a safety, which makes considering him an option due to Woods' injury simply a headline-grab. Don't bank on the team doubling back to sign Eric Berry, either, considering they're still not sold on his ability to remain on the field after struggling to do so in recent seasons.

Signing an oft-injured Berry to replace an injured Woods doesn't make sense for the Cowboys.

Woods came on strong to begin the season and looks to have leveled up over an impressive 2018 campaign, and should he miss any amount of time, the Cowboys will definitely feel it. The goal now is to monitor him going forward while working to establish a safety unit that continues to negate the big play, as it has over the first two games. Regaining their dominant pass rush will go a long way in helping that cause, which makes the timing of Robert Quinn's return from suspension that much more poignant. If they can get back to knocking around the opposing quarterback at will, there will be less for the Woods-less safety unit to clean up.

That's football science. 

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