Dec. 23 (UPI) -- The Dallas Cowboys will be without linebacker Leighton Vander Esch for the remainder of the season, the team announced Monday.
Vander Esch will undergo a minimally invasive procedure on his neck in the next few weeks, according to the team. The Pro Bowl linebacker is expected to be ready for the start of the Cowboys' off-season program next year.
"Leighton did a really good job when he was healthy," Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett told reporters Monday. "He's a good football player and I thought he continued to grow from his experience last year. He obviously did a lot of great things for us as a rookie and we feel like he got better.
"Unfortunately, he hasn't played as much as we would have liked and has been dealing with this neck injury. We're going to do the right thing by him. This is the right thing for his career and we do believe he'll be back healthy and ready to play again at a very high level."
Vander Esch has missed parts of seven games this season, including the last five games, because of a nerve issue in his neck. He initially suffered the injury in the Cowboys' Oct. 20 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles.
Vander Esch was inactive against the New York Giants on Nov. 4 following the team's bye week because of the neck injury, the first game he missed in his NFL career. He hasn't played since undergoing additional tests and scans before Dallas' Nov. 24 matchup against the New England Patriots.
In nine games this season, Vander Esch recorded 72 total tackles, three pass breakups, one forced fumble and a half sack.