Sun, Dec 15, 2019

The battle continues between the Dallas Cowboys offensive line and the injury bug that continues to sink its teeth into its starters. One such victim is starting left guard Connor Williams, who was absent in the team’s 35-27 win over the Detroit Lions due to the second-year talent having undergone arthroscopic knee surgery in the days ahead of the Week 11 clash, and so it was backup Xavier Su’a-Filo getting the nod at Ford Field.

While there’s been no definitive timeline set for Williams’ return, there’s been a promising occurrence that could indicate he’ll be ready to take the field sooner than later — having returned to practice just one week after having his knee scoped. 

“I feel 100 percent,” Williams told reporters on Wednesday, via 105.3FM the Fan.

Williams has not yet been cleared to take the field in Foxborough this weekend, a source confirmed to me on Wednesday, but the fact he’s doing even limited work so soon is a pleasant surprise for the Cowboys. Williams was present in the open (media) portion of practice, but didn’t participate in full team activities. And while he confesses to feeling fine, the ultimate decision lies in the hands of the team’s medical staff — whose decision will come soon.

The club has seen at least one starter return quickly this season from having a knee scoped, when wide receiver Michael Gallup missed only two games on the heels of having meniscus in his knee trimmed earlier this season. Time will tell if Williams can get back on the field as quickly, but he is showing signs.

Su’a-Filo took over the starting role from Williams following a knee scope in 2018 and played admirably in his absence against the Lions, but the task to usurp a leveled-up Williams in 2019 will be a tall task there are currently no indications he’ll accomplish.

Having a full slate of starters will be key for the Cowboys going down the stretch, and especially as they keep a close eye on starting right tackle La’El Collins. It was quite a scare for the club in Week 11, when Collins went down clutching his knee late in the contest, leaving for evaluation and ultimately not returning. He’s has been fighting through knee and back issues recently, and seeing him writhe in pain invoked obvious concerns over his availability for an all-important matchup with the New England Patriots in Week 12.  

He’s expected to take the field against the Patriots, though, but the Cowboys will hold him out of practice for the most part — if not completely — this week to give him a chance to rest and rehab to make sure he can actually play. The odds of Williams joining him and the rest of the starters at Gillette Stadium aren’t as close to guaranteed, but now the conversation begins on if the former second-round pick will be ready for New England or possibly another important test when the Cowboys host the Buffalo Bills on Thanksgiving.

If he is ruled out against the Patriots, there won’t be much time after to get him prepped for the Bills, with the games being just four days apart. It feels as if the worst-case scenario could be a return in the Week 14 battle with the Chicago Bears, giving Williams’ ample time to get back to prime form to close out the year strong and subsequently for a possible playoff push. 

For now, it’s all about rehabbing and not rushing himself back, but progress is a good thing, and he appears to have made quite a bit of it — in short order.

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