FRISCO, Texas – The waiting game is almost over – for the most part, at least.
The majority of the Cowboys' roster will hit the field for practice starting next week, as 2019 training camp gets into full swing. But no two players are the same, and not everyone is on the same schedule. As always, there will be a handful of names worth watching as they work their way back from various injuries.
This year, two of those names happen to be two of the Cowboys' best. It's been an offseason of recovery for both DeMarcus Lawrence and Byron Jones, as the two All-Pros both underwent surgery to fix nagging injuries.
The expectation is that both veterans will ease their way back to action, which will likely limit their participation in both training camp and the preseason.
That's a good thing. Health is important. But it does raise the question, with the regular season kicking off in just 50 days, at what point will D-Law and Byron be ready to go?
Mickey Spagnola: For what? Training camp? Preseason? The opener? My initial thoughts are, while DeMarcus Lawrence physically will be ready to practice at the start of camp following his shoulder surgery, the Cowboys will slow-play his return and that of Byron Jones. Their response will be those two just need to be ready for Sept. 8. Lawrence's recovery from shoulder surgery and readiness will be ahead of Jones (hip surgery), and my guess is the Cowboys will see no reason for either to participate in a preseason game or early contact in training camp. The training staff has a pretty good feel for Lawrence being ready for the season, and frankly, if he were to play in a preseason game, it would be the third one, and even at that, how much would like 15 snaps help him? He's too valuable to take any chances. And as for Jones, all along the Cowboys have been targeting his return for the season opener, but hopefully at that. So, don't expect to see much of Jones in training camp, and if so, certainly no more than individual and walk-through drills. Lawrence maybe moves into some team drills after a week or two.
David Helman: I'm not sure this gets enough credit for being a huge storyline. All indications are that DeMarcus and Byron are making great progress in their rehabs. But you're still dealing with the possibilities that two of your All-Pros on defense won't be available for training camp or possibly part of the regular season. We're privileged enough to work at The Star, so we've seen both guys doing work – and they look good to this point. I tend to believe they'll be physically ready for Week 1. But if they don't get much work during training camp, how rusty will they be? That could be a huge factor in the first two or three weeks of the season.
Rob Phillips: Throughout this offseason, the Cowboys have been hopeful both Pro Bowlers will be ready for Week 1 against the Giants. Both progressed in their surgery rehab during offseason workouts, so that's encouraging. Regardless, Monday's deadline for franchise tag negotiations underscored how important it was for the Cowboys and DeMarcus Lawrence to get a long-term deal done back in April. With that out of the way, Lawrence got his surgery and looks on track for regular-season action. Any delay in getting his shoulder fixed would have jeopardized his early-season availability. Robert Quinn was a solid pickup for the pass rush, but Lawrence is the heart of the defensive line.
Lindsay Draper: You're not going to get any surefire answers here from me, but I don't expect either of these guys to do anything in the preseason. From what I've heard, DeMarcus Lawrence is farther along than Byron Jones. Jones has never gone into a season of football in his life without being able to prepare the whole season before, so this 'waiting until training camp' to start is different for him. Coming off a Pro Bowl year, I'm hopeful that Jones will be able to pick back up where he left off when he is indeed healthy and ready, but I'm not expecting to see anything until 'real' football starts. Both are targeting Week 1, but I think Lawrence is definitely ahead.