Cowboys lose four-time All-Pro offensive guard Zack Martin in latest injury hit to offense

ARLINGTON, Texas — For the first time this season, the Cowboys started the same five offensive linemen in two consecutive games.

“It’s about continuity and consistency,” head coach Mike McCarthy said Monday night before kicking off against the Cardinals.

A substitution was required before the end of the first quarter.

Four-time All-Pro right guard Zack Martin was evaluated for a shoulder stinger in the first quarter, then cleared to return to the Cowboys bench among fellow linemen and quarterback Andy Dalton.

Cowboys RG Zack Martin getting attention from medical staff for a shoulder stinger, per @KristiCowboy. He’s now back on bench with OL after quick chat with Andy Dalton

Martin returned for the Cowboys’ third series of the game but lasted just one play. Doubled over on his hands and knees, Martin was evaluated by medical staff, with whom he then walked off.

Martin, after grabbing a mask, entered the blue medical tent for a cognitive evaluation. He was then evaluated on a stationary bicycle on the sideline before he left for the locker room with Dr. Robert Fowler, who oversees Cowboys’ concussion evaluations, and an unaffiliated neurological consultant.

In the second half, he was ruled out for the remainder of the game with a concussion.

Martin was the latest casualty to a line that’s suffered many in 2020.

McCarthy was hired in Dallas in January with a formidable roster at offensive line. Since then, five-time Pro Bowl center Travis Frederick retired in March. Right tackle La’el Collins, who’s started 61 games since 2015, underwent hip surgery that wiped out his whole season. Seven-time Pro Bowl left tackle Tyron Smith, after playing Weeks 1 and 4, underwent season-ending neck surgery. Center Joe Looney missed his second straight game Monday with a knee injury suffered the first snap of Week 4. Offensive tackle Cameron Erving was placed on injured reserve after Week 1.

Cowboys OL now:

RT Terence Steele
RG Connor McGovern
C Tyler Biadasz
LG Connor Williams
LT Brandon Knight

“Unfortunately our team has kind of been bit by [the injury bug],” Martin had said days earlier. “But I think guys have stepped up and have done a great job of preparing, even though they may not been be in this week, but the next week they step up.

“It’s just another eye-opener for those guys that are in backup roles that they still need to prepare the right way just in case something happens."

The Cowboys replaced Martin with 2018 third-round draft select Connor McGovern, who brought just two snaps of NFL experience to this contest. McGovern joined a line also now featuring rookie center Tyler Biadasz, undrafted rookie right tackle Terence Steele, undrafted second-year left tackle Brandon Knight and 2018 third-rounder Connor Williams.

Six plays after Martin’s exit, running back Ezekiel Elliott fumbled after Dalton pitched a short pass up the middle. Elliott lost a fumble the following drive as well, his third career game fumbling twice and first ever losing both. The Cardinals scored off each en route to a 21-3 halftime lead.

Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Jori Epstein on Twitter @JoriEpstein

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