Gerald McCoy went down in a heap during the early portion of Cowboys practice on Monday holding his right leg. Ultimately, the former Pro Bowl defensive lineman suffered a ruptured quad tendon ending his season before it started.
Cowboys new coach Mike McCarthy had a guttural reaction to seeing the injury in the first padded practice.
"Very, very unfortunate," McCarthy said during a Tuesday morning videoconference. "It just makes you sick on a personal level, any time you see a player go through this type of injury. It was an injury that was in the drill work. I can't tell you just what he has meant to our D-line in the short time we've all been together. He's a big personality. Obviously an excellent football player. I thought he was in good spirits afterwards when I saw him and visited with him. He'll tackle this injury recovery just like he has tackled everything else. Big personality, has a good mindset based on what's in front of him but yeah definitely a loss and very, very unfortunate."
McCoy signed a three-year, $18.3 million contract in Dallas to be an anchor along the interior of D-line. McCarthy noted that the Cowboys believe they have the depth to withstand the season-long injury.
"The overall depth on the defensive line is something we feel we're in good shape there," McCarthy said. "But if you look at the dynamics of your whole football team, the younger players are always going to have to step up, close the gap between the younger less experienced players (and) the older, experienced players. To me, that's a challenge each and every year. When you have an injury to a Gerald McCoy, it definitely heightens the awareness and urgency of the younger players stepping up and taking this opportunity to contribute and be contributors to that particular unit."
Two of those young players McCarthy alluded to are Trysten Hill and Neville Gallimore, who will have to step into McCoy's shoes.
McCarthy expects McCoy to stick around the team this year to help mentor the younger players.
"This is where he wants to be," the coach said of the 32-year-old defensive lineman.
McCoy officially underwent surgery on Tuesday, but had a message for his team, family and fans before he went under the knife.
"To my teammates, coaches, y'all gonna get it. You've got a championship to go win," McCoy said on Instagram. To all my family and friends, I love you guys. To all the fans, stay tuned.
"Keep smiling. Keep breathing. Keep loving. Here we go."