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Mike McCarthy addresses plan at running back with Rico Dowdle ruled out for Lions game

Nikki Chavanelleby:Nikki Chavanelle12/29/23


rico dowdle cowboys
Kyle Terada/USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Cowboys have adjusted the depth chart this week ahead of Saturday’s matchup against the 11-4 Detroit Lions. Backup running back Rico Dowdle is now ‘out’ for the Week 17 game as he manages an ankle injury, which means the Cowboys must turn to rookie Deuce Vaughn. Head coach Mike McCarthy told the plan to the hosts of 105.3 The Fan on Friday morning.

“Deuce will be up this weekend,” McCarthy said. “We got a plan and looking forward to it.”

The sixth-round draft pick out of Kansas State has seen action in five games so far this season. In games against the Giants, Jets, Patriots, and 49ers this year, he’s had 21 carries for a gain of 38 yards. He’s also caught six passes for 30 yards. Dowdle has taken 80 carries this season for 315 yards with two touchdowns.

The Cowboys are still waiting to give the final word on banged-up left tackle Tyron Smith but they’ve ruled out Dowdle and defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins. Smith missed the game against the Dolphins with a back injury, but Dallas is hopeful the veteran can go on Saturday against Detroit.

“I think he has a good chance (to play Saturday),” McCarthy said. “… We feel really good about it.”

Dallas could turn to newly healthy tackle Matt Waletzko, as well as rookie Asim Richards, if Smith is a late scratch. Guard Chuma Edoga is also banged up this week after playing limited snaps against the Dolphins.

Lions to play short-handed vs Cowboys

The Detroit Lions have ruled out starting safety CJ Gardner-Johnson for Saturday night’s matchup against the Dallas Cowboys. The former Florida Gator is dealing with a pectoral injury that had him limited in practice all week. On the Lions’ Thursday injury report, Gardner-Johnson was listed as ‘out’ for the Week 17 game, along with tight end Brock Wright and linebacker James Houston.

The Lions opened the 21-day practice windows for Gardner-Johnson and Houston but the injured defensive duo won’t play against the Cowboys on Saturday. Instead, they’ll take another week off with the hopes of returning for Week 18 against the Minnesota Vikings. Detroit, at 11-4, has already clinched a spot in the playoffs. They won their first divisional title since 1993 on Sunday, taking down the Vikings 30-24.

Gardner-Johnson, a former fourth-round draft pick for the Saints, has played in just two games this season. He recorded 13 tackles, including three tackles for loss, before tearing his pectoral muscle and moving to Injured Reserve for the majority of the season. James Houston also suffered an injury (ankle) and moved to IR after two games. Last season, as a rookie, Houston had eight sacks for Detroit.

The Lions had a third defender on the injury report on Thursday. Cornerback Cameron Sutton popped up late in the week on the injury report and is now listed as questionable with a toe injury. In 16 games last season with the Steelers, Sutton snatched three interceptions and racked up 43 total tackles.