Cowboys' suspensions come at bad time early in season

Cowboys defensive end Randy Gregory was suspended four games for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Cowboys will have plenty of time to figure out how they will rush the passer with Randy Gregory suspended for the first four games and a similar suspension looming for DeMarcus Lawrence.

They might find help from the fourth pick of the draft this week. The Cowboys will take a pass rusher at some point in the draft. Maybe Benson Mayowa will be a real threat and the Cowboys will find pressure from a number of players rather than a select few.

But missing Gregory and Lawrence, who led the Cowboys in sacks last season with eight, will hurt. Lawrence could have moved to right defensive end this year after manning the left side in 2015. The Cowboys hoped Gregory could make the jump Lawrence did last season after failing to record a sack as a rookie.

As it stands they will not play against the New York Giants, Washington Redskins, Chicago Bears and San Francisco 49ers. That's Eli Manning, Kirk Cousins, Jay Cutler and Blaine Gabbert/Colin Kaepernick/some unknown rookie.

Missing 25 percent of a season is substantial when games are so close and teams are separated in the smallest of measures. Missing two NFC East games to start the season is even more difficult.

The Cowboys have had issues getting to Manning since new coach Ben McAdoo took over. The Cowboys have just five sacks of Manning in four games. Manning has six touchdown passes in the last four games, too. Oh and there's Odell Beckham to deal with, and perhaps Victor Cruz.

In two games but less than eight quarters of work, Cousins had four touchdown passes and no interceptions against the Cowboys. He was sacked three times. He has DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garçon and Jordan Reed as his threats. Can he repeat the success he had in 2015? It sure would be helpful to have their last two second round picks to make sure it was difficult to put up numbers against the Cowboys.

Say what you want about Cutler but he might have the best arm in the NFL. What rattles him is pressure. If you can get in his face he will give the defense a chance. Cutler made a step last year under Adam Gase and will have another up and coming coach in his ear this year in Dowell Logains. Cutler will also have Alshon Jeffery and last year's first-round pick Kevin White, who did not play because of injury last season.

The Niners are in flux with Chip Kelly bringing his offense to the Bay Area. The Cowboys have been relatively successful against the fast-paced attack. In six games against Kelly in Philadelphia the Cowboys recorded 14 sacks and gave up only five touchdown passes. Maybe Kelly can get major production out of the quarterbacks but this game projects to give the Cowboys the best chance to succeed without Lawrence and Gregory.

But it won’t be easy. None of it will.