Cowboys linebacker Leighton Vander Esch will miss the rest of the season with a neck injury, team owner Jerry Jones announced on Tuesday. Jones added that the injury has also put Vander Esch's career into question. 

Vander Esch initially sustained the injury during the team's Week 5 loss against the 49ers. He continued to have lingering issues stemming from the injury. 

"We had just completely left it up to how he was evolving," Jones said on 105.3 The Fan, via the team's website. "But he's such a significant loss for us. He's an integral part of that defense out there. But we just wish him well. The nature of his potential injury here causes me to really think longer time and beyond what it means for next week or next month, relatively to the team. It has everything to do with his best interest."

Neck injuries unfortunately aren't new for Vander Esch. He underwent a fusion procedure after missing the final nine games of the 2019 due to a neck injury. Vander Esch, who has also had serious collar bone and ankle injuries during his career, played last postseason after missing four regular-season games with a stinger. 

Vander Esch also had neck injuries in college at Boise State; he missed the second half of the 2016 with a pinched nerve in his neck. Despite that, the Cowboys still selected him with the 19th overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft

When healthy, Vander Esch has been a steady force in the Cowboys defense. He made the Pro Bowl as a rookie. His presence has helped Dallas boast one of the league's top-ranked defense over the past several seasons. 

To replace Vander Esch, the Cowboys have used several different packages on defense that include safety Markquese Bell and recently signed veteran Rashad Evans stepping in to fill the void. Micah Parsons, the Cowboys' stud linebacker, has rushed less while staying more at home in an effort to help replace Vander Esch.