Report: Neck injury expected to keep Leighton Vander Esch out Sunday

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Starting weakside linebacker Leighton Vander Esch was not on the Cowboys’ practice report Thursday. He will show up on it Friday.

Vander Esch missed the first game of his career with a neck injury two weeks ago, but he played 134 of 138 defensive snaps the last two games.

On Thursday, Vander Esch experienced a flare-up, and the Cowboys sent him for an MRI, Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News reports. Vander Esch is not expected to play Sunday against the Patriots.

Mike Mayock, then an NFL Network draft analyst, revealed a week before the 2018 draft that some teams had medical concerns with Vander Esch’s neck. Vander Esch dismissed those concerns as “somebody trying to get clicks,” and the Cowboys drafted him in the first round.

Vander Esch’s neck had not become a concern in his NFL career until he injured it against the Eagles on Oct. 20. He has, however, worn a neck roll in the NFL as he did in college.