FRISCO, Texas — Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins did not practice once again on Thursday, as he continues to rehab the ankle that he injured against the Philadelphia Eagles on Dec. 10 in hopes of returning before the end of the regular season.
When asked on Thursday if he was going to try and push to get a game in before the start of the playoffs, Hankins seemed confident that he could get more than one game in.
"Trying to get a few games in before the playoffs," Hankins said. "I think we're just trying to be smart and play it safe and just understand what we got ahead of us."
Hankins sees the Dec. 30 game against the Detroit Lions as a realistic target date to return as he looks forward to playing against his hometown team in the final regular season home game of the season.
"I think Detroit is realistic," he said about his return. "I'm from Detroit so it'd be nice to play against them."
Compared to injuries he suffered in 2022 and previously in his career, Hankins isn't as worried about this setback being as major as what he has suffered in the past. Rather, it's about being smart so it doesn't get to that point.
"Just keep doing the plan and see how it goes," he said. "See how they evaluate me to go to finish out this week. All in all, it's been good. Every day has been getting better. I'm not too worried or stressed about anything compared to last year."
The Cowboys took the field without Hankins for the first time this season when they traveled north to Buffalo and allowed a season-high 266 rushing yards in a big 31-10 defeat. Moving forward, Hankins hopes to see the defensive unit get back to what it knows it can do.
"It was tough to watch the game," he said. "That's definitely not our standard of play. To see them run and get that many yards, it was definitely hurtful. This week, we just have to take it back to the basics, understand how we play and do the things we need to do. I think this week will be a different team out there compared to last week."