In March, the Cowboys handed what was considered starter money to guard Mackenzy Bernadeau, a four-year, $11 million deal. Only a week removed from hip surgery, though, there is some question about the former Panther's role this season.
The timetable for Bernadeau's return is 10-12 weeks. If the full three months passes before he is cleared to practice, Bernadeau is in danger of missing most of training camp and possibly two preseason games.
In the meantime, young players will try to make their case to fill the starting job that was expected to be Bernadeau's. Head coach Jason Garrett won't say whether Bernadeau will take over the top spot upon his return.
"Not ready to really make a comment on that," Garrett said Sunday. "The biggest thing he has to do is really get himself healthy. He's gone through that process. He told me he started the rehab up in Colorado three hours after he got out of the surgery. It's an aggressive rehab and he's trying to get himself back and is doing a good job so far, and our training staff does such a good job getting these guys back.
"That's where his focus has to be, and we're going to focus on the guys who are able to practice right now, get them ready, keep the injured guys into it, and hopefully when they come back they will compete for a spot."
There was some thought that Bernadeau could play center for the Cowboys, but that ship may have sailed with his injury.
"We'd be less inclined to play him at a couple different spots initially, because he's losing his offseason work," Garrett said. "Essentially we're going to have 12 to 13 practices this offseason, so it's a really important part. It allows us to introduce our programs and our schemes to our players."
Bernadeau could miss about that many training camp practices as well.
"We're disappointed that he got banged up," Garrett said. "He's not going to be a part of this thing, but like all our injured players, he has to stay close to it, be engaged in the meetings, be engaged on the practice field and get as much of the information as he can so when he comes back for the start of training camp, he's ready to roll."