Cowboys LB Leighton Vander Esch ruled out with neck injury

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Dallas Cowboys linebacker Leighton Vander Esch was ruled out of the second half of Sunday's 40-34 overtime loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars because of a neck injury suffered on the first series.

Vander Esch, the Cowboys' leading tackler entering Sunday, got hurt on an 11-yard run by Jaguars running back Travis Etienne. He will undergo an MRI on Monday.

Vander Esch was replaced in the game by rookie Damone Clark, who started the year on the non-football injury list after undergoing neck surgery in March.

Vander Esch suffered a neck injury in 2019 that led him to play just seven games and have surgery. He played in 10 games in 2020 because of a broken collarbone and ankle issue, but had played in 30 straight games entering Sunday.

"Everyone around here is concerned based on just his history," coach Mike McCarthy said. "But I mean just look at last week. He was a huge factor in his play, 14 tackles and all of those things ... Hopefully he'll be fine."

Vander Esch had 99 tackles in the first 13 games, including a season-high 12 in last week's win against the Houston Texans.

With Vander Esch out, the Cowboys have Clark, Anthony Barr and Luke Gifford at linebacker. In the past month Micah Parsons has seen a handful of snaps at linebacker, spending most of his time as a defensive end. Jabril Cox is inactive.