good news. The bad news is he didn't do anything more in this non-pad drill and now must spend some time worrying.
Now Phillips seemed to take the setback in stride.
"We expected it and didn't want to push it too hard," the head coach said, claiming he had been tipped off to this possibility by assistant trainer Britt Brown, who is the team's rehab guru.
"Britt, who worked with Dan Marino (rehabbing his torn Achilles) told me beforehand we're going to put him out there and he'll have some pain."
There didn't seem to be too much panic. The thought is the Achilles would be somewhat tender the first time Ellis actually played some football. The thought is he might have just broken down some scar tissue.
Ellis sort of shrugged, saying it is what is, and that he would be further checked once he went in after practice, probably receive more treatment and then see how he felt Thursday when the Cowboys are scheduled for their first camp two-a-day session, beginning at 9 a.m. here at the Alamodome.
"I don't think Greg's hurt," Phillips said. "He had a little pain, but he's not hurt."
The trainers said Ellis was rechecked, and that they were in a wait-and-see mode, but that this didn't surprise anyone since it's the first time he's participated in any football-related activity.
Phillips, though, said he was "hopeful" Ellis would be ready to resume practicing in the morning.
Ellis would like that, but so would the Cowboys, who basically, and maybe only temporarily, were without their top two strong, outside linebackers for the remainder of practice. Ellis was watching, and first-round draft choice Anthony Spencer wasn't even on the premises, still waiting for his agent to come to contract terms with the Cowboys.
So there was a stream of lesser-knowns jumping into the rotation, starting with Obomese, the rookie free agent from UTEP who turned a few heads during off-season workouts; Junior Glymph, touted by the owner during one mini-camp practice as a "guy we're proud of"; and then John Saldi, the son of former Cowboys tight end Jay Saldi who worked this spring in NFL Europa.
What a dramatic change from a little pre-practice technique drill the linebackers were working on. There was linebackers coach Paul Pasqualoni working with just Ellis and DeMarcus Ware. Boy, that looked good again seeing those guys back out there together. Because when Ellis departed during that Arizona game, the sacks were just about equal. Ware had five. Ellis had 4½. Offenses needed peripheral vision when it came to protection.
But without Ellis around, protections basically stared right at Ware. Now he would finish with 11½ sacks, recording 6½ of those over the final eight games. But when it came to the other side, a conglomeration of guys accounted for four sacks, but nothing causing offenses to fear.
The Cowboys need Greg Ellis. They need Anthony Spencer. They will make Ware better.
But darn it, and it might only be temporarily, the Cowboys were right back in that same boat they were the latter half of last year. And no matter how upbeat Phillips was following practice, saying, "I'm excited" by what he saw out there Wednesday, a little rain did fall, inside the Alamodome, too.
Can't go anywhere out here in this city without your umbrella these days.