OXNARD, Calif. – The Cowboys completed their first walkthrough practice of 2014 on Wednesday, but Brandon Carr and Rolando McClain weren't a part of it.
Neither player missed from injuries. Carr was out dealing with a family health situation, according to head coach Jason Garrett, while McClain went back home to Alabama early for his trial date Friday.
Carr didn't fly out with the team Tuesday to take care of his personal situation, and Garrett said he'd allow time for Carr to take care of that.
Garrett said Wednesday he expected McClain to be on the field Thursday, but the new linebacker had to leave Wednesday night to be ready for the court date Friday morning. Garrett said he now expects McClain to be back Friday night and ready to go Saturday.
The coaches weren't able to work out McClain, as he was signed during a period where the coaches were required to be away from the office, but Garrett said the people around him felt good about where McClain was at physically and decided it was "worth taking a shot to resurrect his career." Garrett said he won't rush McClain into anything, but he wants to get him integrated quickly into the defense.
Here are some other notes from Thursday's walkthrough and Garrett's conference: [embedded_ad]
- Ron Leary and Anthony Spencer were placed on the active/PUP list Thursday morning, but Garrett doesn't expect Leary's hamstring to keep him out long. He said he hopes Leary can be back around Tuesday.
- Henry Melton was on the field with the first-team defense, which was an encouraging sign after he spent the majority of the offseason rehabbing his knee. Garrett said it's critical to have anchor, marquee players such as Melton on the line, and it helps those around him.
- Quarterback Tony Romo was on the field and throwing during the team walkthrough. Garrett said Romo looked good and that everyone was chomping at the bit to get on the practice field after arriving yesterday.
- The walkthrough provided a first look at which players would line up with the first team, and all eyes were on the defense. George Selvie, Nick Hayden, Melton and Jeremy Mincey were the first-team defensive linemen, while Bruce Carter and Kyle Wilber surrounded Justin Durant at linebacker and Barry Church and J.J. Wilcox were the safeties, as expected. Mackenzy Bernadeau lined up at left guard in place of Leary.
- Garrett said the conditioning test put on by the players before leaving for camp was just an extension of them working out together a lot and taking it upon themselves to get better. Garrett had cancelled the team conditioning test, but he said he thought their decision to run it was good for team camaraderie.
- The head coach listed reasons why the defense would be better this year. He said having a second year in the defensive system is better for the staff and the players, and the staff should have a better idea this year of the strengths and weaknesses of each player. He hopes that the players have built a comfort level with the system and that'll allow them to play more confidently and decisively.
- Garrett said Morris Claiborne's like a lot of young players, and with experience he now knows how to focus better. He believes Claiborne's less of a flash player and he can see in Claiborne's body a physical development to go along with a better demeanor and body language.
- Last year at this time, Selvie wasn't even a member of the Cowboys. Now lining up with the starters, Garrett said Selvie's a great example of what the team believes in, giving everyone an opportunity no matter where a player comes from.
- Garrett complimented Gavin Escobar for the strides he made last season, and he sees a stronger and more confident player this year. He said having Mike Pope as a tight ends coach and Jason Witten setting the example makes it a good environment for a young tight end to work in. He also complimented Terrance Williams for a "dramatic" improvement last year, and he believes he earned the bigger role he'll get this year as the No. 2 receiver.