Leighton Vander Esch officially out; La’el Collins will play

Charean Williams

The Cowboys officially ruled out starting weakside linebacker Leighton Vander Esch for Sunday’s game.

Executive vice president Stephen Jones reiterated what head coach Jason Garrett and owner Jerry Jones said earlier Friday: The Cowboys don’t believe Vander Esch’s neck injury is career-threatening or even season-threatening.

“Obviously with where things are in this day and time in medical, you can only say so much, but we certainly don’t think it’s career-threatening,” Stephen Jones said Friday afternoon on his radio show on 105.3 The Fan. “We’ve been on the phone with our trainers and doctors. It’s the same neck injury he’s been dealing with from a couple of weeks ago. But we feel like if we give this thing the proper amount of rest, it may correct on its own. If not, we’ll move forward in another direction. But I don’t think in any way it’s career-threatening.”

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Sean Lee will move from strongside linebacker back to the weakside. He started for Vander Esch against the Giants three weeks ago when Vander Esch missed his first career game.

Vander Esch had returned from the neck injury to play all but four snaps the past two games.

The Cowboys have several players — and even assistant coach Ben Bloom — fighting illness this week.

The Cowboys list linebacker Joe Thomas (illness), safety Donovan Wilson (illness) and left guard Connor Williams (knee) as questionable. Williams was limited all week in his return to practice from arthroscopic knee surgery. Wilson did not practice last two days, and Thomas missed all week.

Right tackle La'el Collins (knee/back) returned to practice on a limited basis Friday and does not have a designation for Sunday.

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