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Johnson Progressing; Aiming To Return After Bye Week

IRVING, Texas – The Cowboys release of Mana Silva could mean they're confident Gerald Sensabaugh will be ready to go this weekend.

It could also mean they're confident fourth-round pick Matt Johnson will be ready to contribute after the bye week. Johnson, who's injured both of his hamstrings and his back between the offseason, preseason and regular season, said he's aiming to return to play in Week 6 and practice in the week leading up to that game against the Ravens.

The Cowboys doctors haven't confirmed he'll be ready to go by then, but Johnson is already running and working out, and he said the bye week should give him the time he needs to heal. Johnson said he wants to get back as quickly as possible to provide some depth for the Cowboys at a position where they're suddenly deficient.

"With those guys, Gerald last week and now Barry for the season, that would help the team," Johnson said. "It's frustrating. Obviously you want to be out here to prove yourself."

The bye week couldn't have come at a better time for Johnson, whose hamstring injuries limited him throughout the preseason. He said they could have been a result of a back injury that started bothering him a few weeks ago.

"Each day is an improvement," Johnson said. "We're kind of just taking it day by day, I guess. I'm tired of looking in the future and having some freak thing happen again. As long as I'm progressing, it's good."

Johnson said he's running and working out in the gym four or five times a week. He's trying to get to the point where he's strong enough to practice without risking injury.

Rushing back too early from a hamstring pull can risk further injury to the hamstring or other parts of the body as a player compensates for the weakness. Johnson knows what can result from returning too quickly. After injuring one hamstring, he said it was his other hamstring that held him out for the majority of the third preseason game against the Rams.

"That's the frustrating thing. You feel good out here going 80 percent," Johnson said. "For me, I felt great going into the St. Louis game and then my other one went. That's the thing that's frustrating."

He said he ran more on Tuesday than he had at any point during his recovery. It's hard for him to shake the possibility of a re-injury to his hamstrings when he runs full sprint, but he knows what the Cowboys invested in him by selecting him in the fourth round and keeping him around since then.

"It means that once I get healthy I have to prove myself, for sure," Johnson said. "It definitely means a lot that they have that faith in me."

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