OXNARD, Calif. – Jason Garrett addressed the media for the first time since Tuesday during his Thursday press conference. The Cowboys are preparing for Sunday's Hall of Fame Game against Miami after a day off of practice.
Injuries at the guard position were the lead topic of the day, as starter Nate Livings missed morning walkthrough. The news raised some concern about the veteran's health, as Livings had been back at practice for less than a week following prior injury issues.
"He does have a health situation – he hasn't practiced a lot in training camp, and he's kind of managing his way through a couple different deals," Garrett said. "We'll just manage him day-by-day and see how he does. It's still very early."
Here are some more notes on the guard situation, and some other information as the preseason opener draws closer:
- Ronald Leary and David Arkin were the Cowboys' starting guards during morning walkthrough.
- Leary has focused primarily on left guard, Livings' position, since his return from injury, but Garrett said the Cowboys plan to move him around to better his flexibility. "He's played a little bit on the right in the past year and a half since he's been with us, but he's been playing more on the left side," Garrett said. "We'll see. Those guys on the interior have to be able to play a couple of different spots. We always talk about position flex from guard to center, but it's also right to left (guard)."
- With just four guards currently available, Garrett said his young linemen can hope to get plenty of work against the Dolphins. "We haven't had those specific conversations about the exact playing time that each of these guys are going to have in this game Sunday night," Garrett said. "But we'll have those conversations in the next couple of days."
- Thursday afternoon's practice will focus heavily on situational work, to help simulate the unique circumstances of a live game.
- The Thursday morning walkthrough was a rehearsal for that practice, as the Cowboys worked on several different game situations, such as end-of-game scenarios.
- Garrett said the nine extra days given to the Cowboys as a result of the Hall of Fame Game hasn't changed the installation schedule too much from years prior. He said the biggest difference is the amount of focus the team has been able to give to special teams practice.
- Quarterback Tony Romo practiced a bit during his supposed day off on Tuesday. Garrett said the coaching staff decided to insert Romo into goal line drills to get him some work in that situation, but he didn't do as much throwing as usual and his individual and team reps were lessened than a normal practice day.
- Wide receiver Dez Bryant did full walkthrough reps with the offense on Thursday morning. Garrett said the coaching staff will see how Bryant feels this afternoon before bringing him into a full practice.
- Garrett praised rookie running back Joseph Randle specifically while recapping the Cowboys' goal line drills from Tuesday afternoon. Randle scored two touchdowns in that period, helping the second-team offense come out on top of the second-team defense. The first-team defense held the first-team offense out of the end zone.
- Garrett declined to comment specifically on the situation with Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Riley Cooper. But he said managing tough situations is part of the NFL head coach job description.
- Running back DeMarco Murray got plenty of critique on his ball carrying during the Cowboys' walkthrough. Garrett reminded him several times during practice to keep the ball high and tight and keep the nose of the football in the air. "It's not his ball – it's our ball. It's important he understands that," Garrett said. [embedded_ad]
- Garrett again addressed the passion of his players during practice. In the same way he wants his defenders to play as physical as possible without hurting any teammates, Garrett said he has to stress to team leaders like Sean Lee and Jason Witten not to stress too much about arguing with the officials. At the same time, he's happy to see the passion on display when his players get after the referees.