OXNARD, Calif. – The Cowboys went through their customary morning walkthrough on Saturday – a typically uneventful affair.
This one was at least mildly more interesting, thanks to the participation of Darren McFadden. The Cowboys' veteran running back has been absent since the start of training camp with a hamstring injury, but he figures to join his first practices this weekend.
"It's been a while since I've been out there, so I'm definitely looking forward to getting out there, hustling and grinding with my teammates," McFadden said after the walkthrough.
That hamstring has been the source of much consternation since the Cowboys announced McFadden would begin training camp on the Physically Unable to Perform List. The seven-year veteran was limited during spring practices, and he has battled injury issues throughout his career.
Those concerns don't seem to have evaded McFadden's attention, as he said he's looking forward to showcasing himself now that he's fully healthy.
"I just want to show them the type of back that Darren McFadden is," he said. "You're going to get a hard worker, a guy that knows how to pick up his pass protection, a guy that breaks big runs and makes big plays for the offense."
It's probably not going to come that quickly, though. The Cowboys have been cautious with all their injury concerns during training camp this summer, and coach Jason Garrett said he expects to work cautiously with both McFadden and Lance Dunbar – who is also returning to practice after a mild ankle sprain.
"He'll be kind of eased in. All those guys will be in individual, see how they do in individual, see if you want to do a little bit more with them today," Garrett said. "Hopefully they'll get a chance to do more tomorrow and just build it up as it goes."
That alone is progress for McFadden, who hasn't done anything except rehab work at any practice this summer. With the Cowboys' top running back job up for grabs, he said it hasn't been easy to watch.
"It's very hard. For me, I'm the type of guy that wants to be out there playing with my teammates – seeing them guys grind the way they do," he said. "I want to be part of that. I'm happy to be back out on that field."[embeddedad0]
Garrett noted that McFadden is a bit behind, considering he's missed two weeks' worth of reps, not to mention a preseason game. Fortunately, that veteran status should come in handy. This will be McFadden's eighth NFL season, which should ease the catchup process at least a bit.
"I wouldn't say I'm behind. As far as reps and just being in football shape and running, I'd say I'm there," he said. "I've been on top of my playbook, I've been up to par on everything. It's just a matter of getting out there and getting my feet out under me."