IRVING, Texas – All of a sudden, one of the deepest positions on the field in training camp is getting rather thin as the regular season approaches.
Less than three weeks away from the Sept. 8 opener with the Giants, the Cowboys had two of their top three cornerbacks missing from practice.
The latest injury setback comes from Orlando Scandrick, who was held out of Wednesday's practice at Valley Ranch with a groin injury. The veteran cornerback, who has been taking first-team reps in the base defense with Morris Claiborne out, said after practice he will be fine.
"It's just precautionary," Scandrick said. "It's really not serious. I'm fine."
Scandrick said the Cowboys' medical staff advised him against playing through groin/abdominal injuries to avoid further damage.
During Wednesday's practice, the Cowboys used B.W. Webb on the first-team defense, although Sterling Moore and Brandon Underwood are also getting plenty of reps.
The defense is already without Claiborne, whose knee injury has kept him out the last two weeks. However, the second-year pro from LSU said Wednesday he has no doubt he will play against the Giants in the first game.
Since he hasn't practiced in two weeks and doesn't appear close to returning to action this week, Claiborne won't suit up against the Bengals Saturday night at AT&T Stadium. That leaves just one preseason game, the finale against Houston. Typically, most teams sit all of their starters unless they've been injured and need to knock off some rust.
Head coach Jason Garrett didn't rule out Claiborne getting a few snaps in the Aug. 29 game with the Texans.
"We'll just see where he is physically," Garrett said. "He needs to practice. He needs to play. But then you say, 'Ok, he's not healthy enough to do that. What's our next best alternative?' You maybe go into a game where he hasn't had as much work as you'd like him to have. That's just part of our game. You've got to make it work."
Earlier in the day, Garrett was asked if he'd rather play with an 85 percent Claiborne against the Giants or Scandrick at full strength.
"That's a great hypothetical. What we're going to try to do is get Mo Claiborne back practicing – that's really what we're focused on, and he's made progress in his rehab so we'll try to do that," Garrett said. "Orlando has done a great job taking advantage of the opportunity he's had, really all throughout training camp when Mo has been out. I think he has proven to us one more time that he can play inside and also he can play outside."
Scandrick signed a five-year, $27 million deal back in 2011 and has since reworked the contract to help the Cowboys save some dollars on the cap. Still, his cap charge of $2.8 million this year is the 12th highest on the team.
As the team's nickel corner, Scandrick plays a demanding position having to cover the slot receivers in the middle of the field. So even when he's lining up on the outside to replace Claiborne, Scandrick will remain the slot corner in the nickel. Webb has some experience playing inside, but nothing close to the level of Scandrick, who basically took over that position from Terence Newman as a rookie in 2008.