COWBOYS NOTES: Dallas needs Zack Martin back to stabilize offensive front

Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) drops back to pass in the second half against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium.Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

David Irving proving unreliable; Byron Jones notches first Pro Bowl spot.

During the Cowboys’ five-game winning streak that saw them take over first place in the NFC East, Dallas moved offensive linemen around, creating new and different combinations and it didn’t hurt the team too much on the scoreboard.

But the good fortune ran out on Sunday in Indianapolis. With right guard Zack Martin sidelined with a sprained MCL and left guard Xavier Su’a-Filo exiting the game with an eye injury, the shuffled offensive line caused problems. The Cowboys were stuffed on a key fourth-and-1 play from the Colts’ 3 on which Indianapolis collapsed the Dallas front. That wiped out a key scoring chance that could have tied the game in the early stages.

Indianapolis also contributed to a rough trend as the Colts sacked Dak Prescott 3 times for 26 yards, a big factor in Dallas scoring 0 points.

The Cowboys definitely need Martin back and the sooner the better. Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said Wednesday that the Pro Bowl right guard would not practice that day, but he didn’t rule him out for the Tampa Bay game on Sunday.

“That time away certainly helps those guys,” Garrett said about Martin sitting out against Indy. “He’s as tough as they come, so he’s going to give himself every chance as we go, but today he’ll just be working on the side.”

Su’a-Filo went through walk through, but was expected to be limited at best in practice.

IRVING STILL AN EMPTY ROSTER SPOT: Between dealing with an NFL suspension, personal issues, and a high-ankle sprain, Cowboys defensive lineman David Irving has played in just two games this season.

The maddening thing for Dallas is the club knows just how good Irving can be when he’s eligible and healthy. He has a sack and a run stuff in the brief time he’s spent on the field this fall. A year ago, Irving posted 7 sacks among 22 total tackles in just eight games.

Irving missed the first six games of this season on suspension for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy. He missed training camp while dealing with personal issues and continued to have family issues to resolve that kept him out of practice even after he was eligible to play and healthy. Since suffering a high-ankle sprain, he has still been away from the team at times dealing with personal matters.

Yet Cowboys owner Jerry Jones remains patient with Irving. On Tuesday, Jones told Dallas-Fort Worth radio station 105.3 The Fan that he anticipates seeing Irving back on the field this season, which at this point amounts to the next two or three weeks.

PRO BOWL BOUND: Five Cowboys were chosen for the Pro Bowl, announced Tuesday, and it’s a bit of a surprise that there’s a slight tilt toward the Dallas offense among the group.

Cowboys left tackle Tyron Smith and Zack Martin, and running back Ezekiel Elliott made the team. Joining them are defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence and cornerback Byron Jones.

While Smith, Elliott, Martin and Lawrence are reappearing on the NFC’s Pro Bowl roster, Jones earned the selection for the first time. It’s an impressive achievement for the fourth-year defensive back who made the transition from safety to corner this season.

“Hopefully, guys were able to watch the games and watch the film and they’ll see the kind of impact he’s made all year long,” Garrett said about Jones’s Pro Bowl selection. “He’s out there by himself a lot and he just simply guards guys week in and week out.”

Jones has 55 tackles and 13 pass breakups this season. He played a huge part in slowing down Eagles’ tight end Zach Ertz in the Cowboys’ 29-23 victory over Philadelphia on December 9.

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