The region were already light in the position but have been left with no fit specialists after Darren Waters ruptured ligaments in his left knee.
Jevon Groves, a blindside flanker-cum-second-row, will pull on the number seven jersey against Zebre at Rodney Parade tomorrow but head coach Darren Edwards admits the situation is a concern.
"His calf isn't quite right and we need to investigate the injury further but hopefully it's a matter of weeks and not long-term," said Edwards.
"The injury to Darren Waters has really caused us problems and it is a major disappointment for him, because he deserves to be out there.
"He played incredibly well in pre-season and was becoming a much more polished player and gave a real balance alongside Dan Lydiate and Toby Faletau.
"The injuries give us a problem because the way that we want to play requires contact area specialists to slow the opposition down and speed ball up for us so that we can play at high tempo.
"I would imagine that we are going to have to recruit. If it's good news on Lewis then we've got our number one openside and maybe we'll back him up. If it's bad news, we need to get a frontline seven.
"For now Jevon is the next one in. He is a talented rugby player and I don't doubt he will respond to the challenge."
The Italian new-boys have retained much of the disbanded Aironi squad and promise to brig a physical presence to Rodney Parade.
The Dragons go into the match on the back of their final pre-season victory over London Irish and are determined to hit the road running following a disappointing campaign last term.
"We are ready to go now," added Edwards. "After working so hard in pre-season the boys just want to play rugby and we've been holding them back this week.
"The pressure is on because we need to produce and get off to a good start.
"Aironi were a tough team to play against and Zebre will be no different; this is not a new team that has just been thrown together.
"They have some seasoned players and have brought some big names in and we expect them to be just like Aironi, not particularly flash but effective in what they do.
"We are all about generating a fast tempo, they are all about slowing it down so it should be a good battle and one we are excited about."
Steve Jones will lead the Dragons, in Evans' absence, in what is his 170th appearance for the region.
Dan Evans, Will Harries, Pat Leach, Andy Tuilagi, Tom Prydie, Steffan Jones; Wayne Evans; Phil Price,
Steve Jones, Dan Way, Ian Nimmo, Andrew Coombes, Dan Lydiate, Jevon Groves, Toby Faletau
Hugh Gustafson, Nathan Williams, Nathan Buck, Adam Jones, Tom Brown, Jonathan Evans, Lewis Robling, Ashley Smith