FRISCO, Texas – Last season, Zack Martin experienced a new feeling for the first time. And he didn't really like it.
Martin missed the first two games of his NFL career, including a December trip to his hometown of Indianapolis.
And while he'll miss the entire preseason this year with a nagging back injury and has practiced in nearly a month, Martin said he's hopeful to get back on track once again, and be a constant figure in the lineup.
"My goal is to be out there for every game this season," Martin said following Tuesday's practice at Ford Center. "Knowing that my teammates can count on me week in and week out, I take great pride in that. That's something that I'm working to get back to."
Martin hasn't practiced since the early part of training camp in Oxnard. But he said he feels much better now and is confident in the plan the Cowboys' training staff has taken in this approach.
"I think we've executed the plan well and we're putting ourselves in the best position to be out there each week," Martin said. "I'm definitely better now than I was in Oxnard a month ago."
Martin, a first-round pick of the Cowboys in 2014, started all 16 games in each of his first four seasons, earning All-Pro and Pro Bowl status each year. Last season, Martin suffered a knee injury that kept him out of Indianapolis and then was held out of the Week 17 game in New York before returning to the playoffs. Still, Martin did enough of the other 14 games to earn a fifth straight All-Pro selection, becoming the first player in Cowboys history to begin his career with five straight All-Pro and Pro Bowl selections.
While Martin's focus is to get back to that level, he knows he needs a strong running game behind him. So even without practicing, he couldn't escape the media's routine Ezekiel Elliott question. The All-Pro guard was asked on his thoughts of Zeke continuing his holdout despite the season now less than two weeks away.
"Listen, we're preparing for the season. We're going to play with what we've got. And what we've got is a damn good back in Tony Pollard," Martin said. "Obviously you want (Zeke) out here but we're preparing to get ready for Week 1."