Cowboys will be without Pro Bowl LB Leighton Vander Esch (neck) vs. Patriots

Shalise Manza Young
Yahoo Sports Columnist

The Dallas Cowboys will be without a significant defensive player as they face the New England Patriots on Sunday: head coach Jason Garrett confirmed that Pro Bowl linebacker Leighton Vander Esch won’t play because of a neck injury.

On Thursday, ESPN Cowboys reporter Todd Archer reported that Vander Esch’s injury had “flared up” and he’d undergo an MRI, and he’d be re-examined in a few weeks to see if the inflammation has calmed down.

On Friday, Garrett said the injury is not “career threatening,” but was not clear on whether Vander Esch will be able to return this season. He called the second-year backer “week to week,” and that the injury should calm down with rest.

The 19th pick in last year’s draft, Vander Esch was named to the Pro Bowl as a rookie. This year he’s started nine games, with 72 total tackles (43 solo), which is second on the team; he also has a forced fumble and has a half-sack.

Dallas Cowboys linebacker Leighton Vander Esch will miss Sunday's game against New England. (AP/Paul Sancya)