Two valued members, leaders of the Cowboys’ defense and special teams who have been absent for weeks, may now both be done for the 2023 season.
Linebacker Leighton Vander Esch and cornerback C.J. Goodwin both went on injured reserve in the hours before the team’s Week 6 game against the Chargers in Los Angeles. At the time, it was hoped that both would be back before the season was out.
According to a report from Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News, that is now off the table for Goodwin. And it’s not looking good for Vander Esch, either.
Goodwin suffered a pectoral injury in Week 5’s loss to San Francisco and now plans to undergo surgery later this week to repair the damage. There had been slight hope that strengthening the area around the muscle through rehab could delay the need for a procedure, but Gehlken reports that the special teams ace has had a recent setback.
“I knew it was a long shot anyway,” Goodwin said, per Gehlken. “They said they never had somebody come back from it, but they gave me the opportunity to try, and I tried. It is what it is, but I’m looking forward to getting it better and rehabbing.”
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As for Vander Esch, a course of action has not been decided regarding his latest neck injury, also suffered in Week 5. The veteran linebacker has already had one fusion procedure, in 2020, to treat a bulging disk. A second surgery to address his current injury is still a possibility, according to a person close to the situation.
Both Goodwin and Vander Esch could have had their 21-day practice windows opened on Monday. Instead, the door has closed on Goodwin’s season, and what’s behind Vander Esch’s is very uncertain.