IRVING, Texas – All the battered defensive position groups should get some reinforcements back this weekend against the Giants.
Safety J.J. Wilcox (knee), defensive tackle Jason Hatcher (neck/arm) and linebacker DeVonte Holloman (neck) were all on the field Monday and expect to be ready to play the Giants after missing the Saints game before the bye week.
"Guys are getting healthy," Hatcher said. "I'm excited for Sunday to get here. I'm very excited to be back."
Hatcher said as far as he knows, he'll be ready to go against the Giants after missing a game with a stinger. He used the bye week to build the strength back in his left arm while in Los Angeles during the break with his wife.
"I'm excited where I'm at strength-wise," Hatcher said. "I'm confident about playing in the game. I'm pretty sure I can do my job. Last week, I couldn't do it. It came a long ways. I rehabbed over the break out in L.A., worked it out as much as I could. We'll just see how it responds throughout the course of the week, but I'm preparing to play in this game."
While it might seem like the rest would be beneficial to Hatcher, he said he'd rather have been playing football last week. Once his arm started gaining it's strength back, he wanted to make sure to work the muscle out and strengthen it rather than let it rest more.
He couldn't work on his technique when his arm was shot, but now Hatcher's able to work closely with defensive line coach Rod Marinelli to get back to the level he was playing at prior to injury. [embedded_ad]
"If I could trade it all, I would want to play," Hatcher said. "I wouldn't want these two weeks off, because you lose a lot of foot speed, technique, timing. So you've got to, in one week, sort of try to get it back. It's easy to lose your technique and your timing of the game. Hopefully I ain't too rusty when I get back."
Hatcher's only missed one game, so the rust probably won't be as tough to overcome for him as it will be for Wilcox and Holloman. Wilcox has missed the last three games and Holloman's missed the last four games with their respective injuries.
Wilcox said he's used the time off to study more film and get better with the mental aspect of the game, but he's excited and ready to return to real action. He didn't hold back in Monday's practice, but he admitted it takes a minute to get back into the swing of things.
As he put it, "This is the NFL, this ain't college no more."
"I felt pretty good today," Wilcox said. "I let it go and the coaching staff said I looked good. I'm excited to see what this week brings."
Wilcox won't be wearing a brace this weekend, but he will likely have his knee taped up. He didn't practice last week but felt like he might have been able to play if the Cowboys had a game. It's been tough for him to have to watch the defense play without having a role in the outcome.
"You don't really think it bothers you until you actually sit down and watch your people go to war," he said. "It's the what-ifs that kind of bother me. I'm just ready to get back, man."
It seems Holloman is also on track to get back and is just as thrilled about his potential to start. Holloman's been working with the first team in practice and would make the first start of his career at strong side linebacker if he gets through practice this week unscathed.
A spinal contusion kept Holloman out for a month, but he plans on suiting up when the Cowboys go full pads Wednesday. He feels like he's responded well so far.
"I'm anxious to play," Holloman said. "I'm not really thinking about it. If you think about it, then it's in the back of your mind and you might not hit right or you might be scared to hit. I'm just excited to play."
It's not often a rookie gets to miss four weeks and jump right into the starting rotation. He's working on getting in shape and getting a feel for playing again as quickly as possible so he can fully grasp the opportunity.
"I've been waiting," he said. "I'll try to make the most of it."