ARLINGTON, Texas – Training camp is a mere 10 days away, and the Cowboys seem optimistic about who might be available when they report to Oxnard, Calif., for the start of practices.
Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones spoke to reporters about the approaching season on Monday afternoon. When the topic turned to the team's injury concerns, Jones had positive news to share about the state of the roster.
"We fully expect everybody to get well," he said. "We're starting to feel pretty optimistic even about guys like Dunbar in terms of maybe being able to play sooner than later."
Lance Dunbar headlines a list of several players still rehabbing from major injuries, after he tore both his ACL and MCL in last year's Week 4 loss to New Orleans. Joined by the likes of Orlando Scandrick and Gavin Escobar, Dunbar underwent a strenuous rehab routine during OTAs – and Jones said he's made remarkable progress.
"It's a long year with him as well, and we want to do things the right way with him – but God, do I commend him," Jones said of Dunbar. "He's worked so hard and he's come so far so fast – a lot faster than anyone ever dreamed that he could come. But we've also got to do what's in his best interest and certainly not jeopardize any of the hard work that he has put into this."
The same can be said for Escobar, who Jones said he expects to be healthy for the season opener – despite the fact that the fourth-year tight end tore his Achilles a mere seven months ago, on Dec. 19, 2015.
"I think Gavin will be ready to start the season," Jones said.
Add those two to the likes of Scandrick and Dez Bryant, who have both professed to be prepared for the start of training camp.
It leaves the Cowboys with just a handful of names who might not be ready when camp opens at the end of July. Rookie defensive tackle Maliek Collins broke his foot during OTAs, and Darren McFadden underwent surgery on a broken elbow. New defensive end Benson Mayowa also had an arthroscopic procedure on a knee injury, though Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones said he doesn't expect the pass rusher to miss much time.
"I don't have any thought that he won't be able to step out there and play from the start," he said. "They might give him some light work early, but he's not on my list."
It looks like a virtual certainty that at least a few players will be on the Physically Unable to Perform list at the start of camp. Jerry Jones said that Collins is the player whose progress he's most curious to monitor, while the Cowboys will likely take it slow with several others – which Stephen Jones insisted isn't a bad thing.
"As we all know, it's a long season. We all remember last year that Darren McFadden missed the majority of the camp out in Oxnard and then went on to have a tremendous year," he said. "It's certainly not the end of the world for some of these guys to not get right out there on Day 1. You certainly want as many of them as you can, but we want to be smart about how we get these guys ready to go."