OXNARD, Calif. – For a couple of weeks while his teammates were out in California grinding through training camp, Brandon Carr was in the middle of his own grind.
Trying to be the rock of his family that was losing their mother, Carr was in Flint, Michigan tending to his mother, who passed away of cancer on July 31. With the funeral taking place last Tuesday, coupled with the Cowboys' game in San Diego, Carr didn't reunite with his teammates here in Oxnard until Friday night, followed by a walk-through Saturday morning.
But don't think it was Carr's first physical activity in the last few weeks. The veteran cornerback found some time and locations during his Michigan stay to keep his body somewhat in football shape.
"Wherever … Next door at the church parking lot or the church yard or I'd go to my high school or I'd go to another high school and mess up their turf," Carr said. "Just wherever I could get a couple free hours of being away from the house. My brother did a great job of just kind of training me and helping me, push me along the way."
While Carr was obviously wanting to be with his teammates at camp, he knew he was at the spot he needed to be.
"At the end of the day, you only get one mother," Carr said. "This time, I had to be home. We had a wonderful week together and did a lot of great things, and I can smile about it."
Carr also said he's hopeful he can take some of this emotional experience and apply to the field this season.
"It's been extremely tough, man," Carr said. "Somebody that you've known your whole life that's raised you, that's made you a product of their environment. To see them fight the way they fought in the end and still be selfless, I've learned a lot from the situation about myself and just about life. Hopefully, I can use some of those things I've learned throughout the season this year."
Head coach Jason Garrett has reiterated several times the Cowboys will give Carr or any other player all the time needed to deal with family matters. Obviously, he was excited to have one of his defensive leaders back on the field
Photos from Saturday's morning walkthrough in Oxnard.
"It's great to have him back. The last couple of weeks have been really challenging for him," Garrett said Saturday. "It was the right thing for him to be there and to be with his family during this tough time. Now, somehow someway he's got to get his mind rind and back to football the best he can. We'll see how he is on the practice field and get him ready to go as fast as we can."
The Cowboys certainly need Carr and any other healthy cornerback on the field. Along with his absence, the defense has been without injured corners Morris Claiborne (knee), Sterling Moore (groin) and Tyler Patmon (hip). Rookie DaShuan Phillips was injured as well and cut, forcing the Cowboys to sign Korey Lindsey, who had to play Thursday night without a single practice.
The Cowboys have unfortunately dealt with two other similar situations in the past year. Safety J.J. Wilcox had to leave camp last year as a rookie when his mother passed away. In December, Claiborne lost his father as well.
During Saturday morning's walk-through, both Carr and Claiborne were back on the practice and rotating with Scandrick for first-team reps. [embedded_ad]
"We welcomed him back with open arms. That's my guy. I love Brandon -- and having him back, having him around, it takes a lot off us all," Claiborne said. "Having his spirit around lifts us up. It's one of those things where you don't want to always bring it up. Like today, I wanted to ask him 'How are you doing – like literally, how are you?' He's taking it like he should and things happen. You have to handle them a certain way, and he's been handling it great."
Carr said he was more than appreciative of the support he's received from the Cowboys.
"Once again, they've done a great job of making me feel comfortable and letting me know they have my support and my back even though I was absent," Carr said. "They sent flowers, food – they took care of myself and my family. It's just a great big thank you to the organization. I got a lot of texts from guys who have been through similar situations. They were great for me. I'm just happy to get here and get ready to work with them."