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The Dallas Cowboys defensive line lost one of its biggest pieces this week when Gerald McCoy went down with a season-ending injury. During the team’s first practice in full pads, McCoy suffered a torn quadricep in his right leg after falling awkwardly during a one-on-one drill with a teammate. 

If McCoy’s injury proved one thing, it’s that the season can end in the blink of an eye for any player in the NFL. In McCoy’s case, the injury was caught on film by CBS 11 in Dallas, and as you’ll see in the video, the defensive linemen was taking part in a routine drill with teammate Antwaun Woods when the devastating injury happened. 

Former NFL team physician, Dr. David Chao, referred to McCoy’s quad as an “early season acclimation injury” on Twitter. The NFL Player’s Association was actually worried that multiple players around the league would suffer acclimation injuries, which is a big reason why the NFLPA didn’t want to have preseason games this year. 

Back in July, NFLPA president J.C. Tretter pointed out that injuries around the league increase significantly after an unusually long period away from football, which is what players are dealing with this year due to the fact that all offseason programs were canceled. The last time OTAs and minicamps got called off came during the lockout of 2011, and as Tretter notes, once camps started that year, injuries increased by 25%, Achilles injuries more than doubled and hamstring strains went up 44%.

On McCoy’s end, it also didn’t help that he’s had prior issues with his right quad. As a matter of fact, the Cowboys actually wrote a clause into his contract that allowed the team to cut him if he injured the quad, and the Cowboys took advantage of that waiver when they released him on Tuesday (Despite being cut, McCoy will get to go home with a $3 million parting gift in the form of his signing bonus that he got when he signed his three-year, $18.3 million contract in March). 

Although McCoy is no longer a member of the team, Cowboys executive VP Stephen Jones has already made it clear that he would like to see the defensive lineman return next season. 

“I know Gerald in just the short time that we got to know him,” Jones said Tuesday, via the team’s official website. “But knowing from our studies, he’ll push. He’s a warrior. He’ll get back. And in my opinion, he’ll end up playing for the Dallas Cowboys, albeit not this year. But i see him putting on a (Cowboys) uniform on in the future.”

McCoy, who underwent surgery on Tuesday, offered some encouraging words to his former teammates from his hospital bed. 

“I’m going to continue to mentor these young boys,” McCoy said this week in an Instagram video. “Only thing is I can’t go in the building and do it, but I have these guys’ [cell phone] numbers, man, I’m going to be watching on TV, and any way I can. They know they can call me, text me or whatever. Ain’t nothing going to change. It’s just who I am.”

You can see the video of McCoy’s comments below. 

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