• Todd Archer, ESPN Staff WriterSep 22, 2023, 02:43 PM ET


      Todd Archer is an NFL reporter at ESPN and covers the Dallas Cowboys. Archer has covered the NFL since 1997 and Dallas since 2003. He joined ESPN in 2010. You can follow him on Twitter at @toddarcher.

FRISCO, Texas — Dallas Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy acknowledged that the loss of cornerback Trevon Diggs for the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee during Thursday’s practice is a blow, but said the organization’s goals do not change.

“Obviously you feel sick [for] him,” McCarthy said Friday on a conference call. “It’s definitely a punch to the gut for our football team, but this is an opportunity for our defensive depth to stand up and continue to move forward.”

McCarthy said he has had a couple of conversations with Diggs since the injury, including one Friday morning. Diggs suffered the injury during one-on-one red zone drills on the team’s grass practice field. A decision on when he will have surgery has not been made.

As to whether McCarthy would alter the team’s practice routine because of the injury, he said: “When you see the video, it’s something that can happen anywhere. Two guys going for the football and it looks like he came down and stepped on the foot of the wide receiver. This was not a drill issue at all.”

Last year, the Cowboys lost Pro Bowl left tackle Tyron Smith late in training camp to a torn hamstring that caused him to miss 13 games. In the season opener, Dak Prescott suffered a broken thumb that forced him to miss five games, but the Cowboys went 4-1 with Cooper Rush as the starting quarterback and finished with a 12-5 record in 2022.

“This is an example of what we’re talking about when we speak on culture, the strength of the locker room,” McCarthy said. “It’s something that you’re going to have to deal with throughout the season. It’s part of the adversity to win a championship. The focal point really for us is really on Trevon, the person, because he needs our love and support, but this is part of the NFL. It’s definitely unfortunate.”

DaRon Bland is expected to move outside from the slot to Diggs’ role opposite Stephon Gilmore, while Jourdan Lewis will see more action as the No. 3 cornerback.

Bland, who led the Cowboys with five interceptions as a rookie last season and had a pick-six in this year’s season opener against the New York Giants, started two of his eight games in 2022 as an outside cornerback.

“Very confident in DaRon,” McCarthy said. “If you look at his history here, whether it was to start on special teams or the opportunity to play in the nickel, the opportunity to play outside, he’s always stepped up and played. He’s very, very professional for a young player. This is another opportunity and he’ll take the challenge.”

Speaking on 105.3 The Fan in Dallas on Friday morning, owner and general manager Jerry Jones was asked about adding a comparable corner to replace Diggs, who has 18 interceptions since 2020. According to the NFL Players Association website, the Cowboys have $8.7 million in salary cap room; however, much of that is pegged to potential incentives and practice squad call-ups during the season.

“That’s like saying I want to be Tom Cruise,” Jones said. “So the point is, you don’t replace these irreplaceable players.”

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