Dallas Cowboys linebacker Leighton Vander Esch suffered a scary neck injury last season against the Philadelphia Eagles. He was placed on injured reserve after week 9 and couldn’t play the rest of the year. Vander Esch had surgery in January to repair his neck, and he recently revealed some encouraging news.
Leighton Vander Esch had a brilliant start to his NFL career
Leighton Vander Esch was drafted 19th overall by the Cowboys in 2018, and many fans questioned why the Cowboys spent a first round draft pick on a linebacker when the team already had Sean Lee and Jaylon Smith on the roster.
Vander Esch quickly showed the doubters why he was worth the risk. He exploded onto the scene as a rookie with 140 combined tackles and two interceptions in 2018-19. The Boise State product made the Pro Bowl as a rookie.
Vander Esch was in the middle of another strong season in his second year before the neck injury ended it early. As the future of the linebacker position in Dallas, Cowboys fans worried the injury would set the young talent back too far.
Vander Esch says he feels the best he’s felt in a long time after surgery
Vander Esch underwent neck surgery in January. Since then, he’s suffered no setbacks and he feels fully recovered just a few months later. Vander Esch recently appeared on ‘The ‘Boys & Girl Podcast‘ and gave Cowboys fans a sigh of relief with his comments.
“I am doing wonderful,” he said. “I feel as good now as I ever have before I even got hurt, I mean I’m ready to roll. I’ve been training full-go for a couple of months now, so it’s not holding me back whatsoever.”
This is encouraging for Cowboys fans, especially considering Vander Esch has dealt with neck issues in the past.
“I feel just as good as I ever have,” he later said. “I’m just excited to play football at this point and get back on the field and, like I said, whenever they give us the green light to go, we’re going to be ready.”
A healthy linebacker group makes the Cowboys a Super Bowl contender
We all know how dangerous the Cowboys offense will be in 2020, but what about the defense? Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, and Amari Cooper will put up major numbers, but you still have to be able to get stops in the NFL.
With a healthy linebacker group of Vander Esch, Lee, and Smith, the Cowboys have one of the fastest and most technically-sound trios in the NFL. All three have the leadership qualities to lead the defense when the other two are off the field, too.
It also gives Dallas flexibility to work Vander Esch back slowly if need be. There’s no reason to push him past his comfort level early with a history of neck problems behind him.
The Cowboys’ defense still has some question marks, but a healthy Vander Esch will vastly improve the group as a whole. If the defense matches the offense’s productivity, the Cowboys will be a dangerous Super Bowl contender in 2020.
All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference