FRISCO, Texas – Dallas Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy said the team will start the three-week practice window for rookie linebacker Damone Clark, who has been on the Non-Football Injury list since the start of training camp recovering from offseason spinal fusion surgery.
The Cowboys had a third-round draft grade on Clark, a former All-American at LSU, but he fell to the fifth round after the March procedure on his neck. The team drafted Clark with optimism that he has a chance to play and contribute this season.
"I think we've got a good feel for what we're looking at with him," Cowboys chief operating officer Stephen Jones said on draft weekend in late April. "He'll miss six months from his time of surgery. … This guy is one hell of a football player when he's healthy and we think he'll be healthy in time to maybe even to really help us this year at some point."
Clark can be activated from the Non-Football Injury list at any point during the next three weeks. If not, he'll spend the rest of the season on NFI.
"I think the rehab process is complete," McCarthy said Wednesday. "And I'm personally happy we waited as long as we did, because now this young man can jump in there full speed. But he hasn't put on pads in a year and a half, so let's be realistic about that. It'll be good to get him out here working. I'd like to see where he is at the end of the week, but in a lot of ways he's like a guy that just showed up at training camp and missed ramp-up and missed the whole offseason program. He just needs the work. It'll be great to have him out there."