The Cowboys lost two important pieces of their secondary on Sunday, as both safety Barry Church and cornerback Morris Claiborne suffered injuries. Church fractured his arm and will miss three-to-five weeks, according to Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News (Twitter link), while Claiborne may require surgery for a sports hernia and could be out indefinitely, reports Todd Archer of ESPN.com.
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Church, who likely won’t undergo an operation, has played extremely well this season, grading as the league’s No. 17 safety, according to Pro Football Focus. In seven starts, Church has managed 34 tackles, two interceptions, two passes defensed, and one forced fumble. The 28-year-old Church’s contract is up at season’s end, so the injury puts a damper on his free agent prospects. J.J. Wilcox is likely to replace Church in the starting lineup, but Dallas also has Jeff Heath, Kavon Frazier, and Jameill Showers available at safety.
Claiborne, meanwhile has transformed from a former draft bust to a legitimate top corner in his fifth NFL season, ranking as PFF’s eighth-best corner on the year. Re-signed to a one-year deal worth only $3MM, Claiborne has started all seven games and posted one interception. Like Church, Claiborne is also head for unrestricted free agency after the season. For the time being, he’ll be replaced by Orlando Scandrick, who just returned to game action on Sunday. The Cowboys’ only other corner is Anthony Brown, so they could potentially make a move for another defensive back soon.