Crawford was injured while chasing down Ezekiel Elliott on a run, when their legs became tangled and Elliott inadvertently stepped on the defensive lineman’s right ankle. Crawford grabbed for his lower leg and was tended to immediately.
He was in obvious pain as he left the field. A source said the hope is the ankle is not broken, but Crawford was taken to a local hospital for X-rays. After practice, teammates said a quick prayer for Crawford.
“When you have a guy like that — not only is he a great football player, but he’s a leader and there’s a void there and you are going to need somebody to step up,” linebacker Sean Lee said. “The sense of urgency for everybody has to go through the roof right now. … If there’s a way to come back, he’ll find a way.”
Defensive line is among the Cowboys’ biggest questions entering the season and the team can ill afford to lose Crawford, who has been a starter at different spots along the line since 2015. The Cowboys already will be without David Irving and Damontre Moore to start the season because of suspensions, and do not have a ton of experienced depth to begin with.
Dallas drafted Taco Charlton in the first round in the spring. He has been working at both left and right defensive end throughout camp. If Crawford, who has been bothered the past two years by shoulder injuries that required postseason surgeries, misses extended time, Charlton will need to become a bigger part of the Cowboys’ defensive line rotation.
“Hopefully nothing is bad,” Charlton said. “I’d hate to lose our leader on the defensive line. But at the end of the day, the next man has to step up and do their job.”