IRVING, Texas – Miles Austin returned to pads Wednesday for the first time since the Cowboys' Week 3 win against St. Louis.
Austin has been battling a hamstring injury for the past two weeks, but he was able to participate in practice during Wednesday's open media session. He worked with the team in the early going, running routes and catching balls from the quarterback.
The Cowboys have been anticipating Austin's return and Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said during his morning press conference he expected the wideout to get some work in.
"We anticipate him doing something today, and hopefully he is feeling good early on in practice and can do more and more," Garrett said.
Jason Hatcher took Austin's place on the sideline. The defensive tackle suffered a stinger late in Sunday's loss to the Broncos and was unsure if he'd be able to practice Wednesday. That question appeared to be answered when Hatcher appeared in shorts with no helmet.
His linemate, DeMarcus Ware, worked out in full pads, however. Ware has limited himself to just shorts and a helmet the past few weeks as he coped with various injuries, but he was in full uniform Wednesday.
Other injury casualties of the Wednesday practice include Justin Durant and Edgar Jones, who continue to work back from groin injuries. The duo did conditioning off to the side of the practice.
"We're hopeful he can move around as the week goes on and play in this ballgame," said Garrett of Durant.
Lance Dunbar, who strained his hamstring against the Broncos, was not at practice.
The Cowboys went through the morning practice with one empty spot on the active roster after the release of Will Allen on Tuesday. Garrett said a combination of factors led to that move – mainly the coaches' impression of the rookie development at safety.
"J.J. Wilcox has been our starter for the last couple of weeks and Jeff Heath has been a guy who has really emerged throughout training camp and the early part of this season, so we want to give those guys an opportunity to play," Garrett said. "We still have a veteran back there in Danny McCray, who has played for us in the past. We felt like a combination of all those things, trying to give those guys an opportunity -- we felt it was the right time to do this."
There has been no word on what the Cowboys plan to do with the available roster spot, though it's possible they could elevate a member of their practice squad. Garrett said the team will likely make that decision based on injury concerns.
"We have a couple things in mind as we go here over the course of the week, and some of it has to do with injury and who might be available to us," he said.