Now it appears they will get an influx of young blood on defense for the final two games of the season and the playoffs.
When the Cowboys (12-2) take on the Detroit Lions Monday night they will have defensive end Randy Gregory in the lineup for the first time after missing the first 14 games under NFL suspension.
Gregory didn't record a sack as a rookie last and hasn't played in a game in almost a year. But everyone in the locker room understands the type of talent he possesses and what his return could mean to bolster the pass rush down the stretch.
Head coach Jason Garrett said Gregory is champing at the bit to get back on the field.
"Oh, man, he's been looking real good," defensive end Tyrone Crawford said. "He's looking real fast and definitely excited to get him out there against a team (the Detroit Lions on Monday night) that I feel he'll actually rush good against. I'm excited, man.
"The young bull's back."
There had been some thought that Gregory could return to practice two weeks ago, but the league denied that because he was not compliant. But Gregory is set to return to practice this week and owner Jerry Jones has said multiple times that Gregory would play.
Jones mentioned the impact Charles Haley had in Super Bowl XXX after being sidelined six weeks following back surgery. While Jones admitted Gregory is not comparable to Haley in terms of track record, Gregory still has a chance to make a positive impact.
His teammates certainly believe so, too.
"He's a beast. Randy is a beast," defensive end David Irving said. "Heck, we could use him on the edge, so I'm excited to see my boy come back."
The Cowboys have combined for 30 sacks on the season, one shy of matching their total from a year ago (31). They are tied for 17th in the league and understand what a sustained pass rush could mean in a playoff run.
Gregory has a chance to bolster it.
Defensive tackle Maliek Collins played two seasons with Gregory at Nebraska, and had his best season in Gregory's final one in 2014. Collins had 4.5 sacks and 13 tackles for loss that year, while Gregory had seven sacks and 9.5 tackles for loss.
"He was very versatile and we had great chemistry," Collins said. "It means a lot to have him back, man. He can contribute. ... I'm sure he'll be ready to go."