IRVING, Texas – With Dallas Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones confirming that Anthony Spencer will start the season on the 53-man roster, that puts what the team will do with second-round pick DeMarcus Lawrence in the spotlight.
Lawrence is recovering from surgery to repair a broken foot and was expected to miss the first three to six regular-season games if not more.
The Cowboys could place Lawrence on injured reserve with a designation to return, but he would have to be on the 53-man roster through Sept. 2. Lawrence said last week that his foot was feeling better, but he is still on crutches and unsure of when he would be back.
That means the Cowboys will have to carry two defensive linemen (Spencer and Lawrence) on their roster for four days knowing that neither one will play in the Sept. 7 season opener against the San Francisco 49ers and risk losing a player they would normally keep.
It is difficult to see the Cowboys keeping Spencer and Lawrence on the roster to start the year because they would need to go heavier on the defensive line, which would leave them thin at other spots of need, such linebacker, secondary or offensive line. It also could affect how many running backs the Cowboys keep with tailback Ryan Williams and fullback Tyler Clutts.
If Lawrence is on short-term injured reserve he would miss the first eight games of the season, which would put his return to game action Nov. 2 against the Arizona Cardinals.
Another thing to factor into the decision making process: The Cowboy can use the designation only once during the year. What if a starter on the offensive line -- or elsewhere -- has a six- to eight-week injury early in the year? The Cowboys would have to carry the player on the roster or put him on season-ending injured reserve.