Cowboys DE Lawrence OK, but back surgery more serious than expected

INDIANAPOLIS -- Randy Gregory's four-game suspension increases the Dallas Cowboys' need for a pass-rusher, but, to a lesser degree, so does the health of DeMarcus Lawrence.

Lawrence underwent a back surgery last month that executive vice president Stephen Jones said ended up being a little more serious than the team anticipated. Lawrence is expected to be able to participate in at least a part of the organized team activities and minicamp and should be 100 percent for training camp.

“He did something that was obviously a lot worse than what he was having. We were somewhat surprised that it was what it turned out to be," executive vice president Stephen Jones said of Lawrence’s surgery. "We thought it might be something a little less significant, but it’s nothing that we have concerns about going forward.”

Lawrence, who started 13 games, did not miss a game in 2015 and led the Cowboys with eight sacks. He was listed on the injury report with a chest injury during the season but it did not keep him from playing.

The coaches credited Lawrence with 56 tackles. He also had 31 quarterback pressures and eight tackles for loss.

The Cowboys know they will be without Gregory for a quarter of the season because of his suspension. They also have free agents in Greg Hardy, who is not likely to return, Jeremy Mincey, who had offseason elbow surgery, and Jack Crawford.

A healthy and an in-form Lawrence is a must for the Cowboys in 2016.

Lawrence played left defensive end last year, but the Cowboys could move him to the right side, depending on how they fill out roster in free agency and the draft.

“I mean, you’ve got to get your four best players on the field and you can’t manufacture a right end if there’s not one there,” Jones said. “A lot of guys who play right end who maybe aren’t the perfect -- what you’d call the perfect fit -- but can still be highly productive there. If you end up having four really solid players, then you can still, I think, get good pressure on the quarterback.”