Mon. Practice Recap: Extensive Work For Dez; B. Jones Fills In For Wilcox

ARLINGTON, Texas– While he was held out of the last game and most certainly won't play Thursday in the preseason finale, wide receiver Dez Bryant practiced with his teammates Monday night at AT&T Stadium.

Bryant has missed most of the last three weeks with a hamstring injury. The Cowboys have decided to keep him out of the first three preseason games, meaning he will miss the entire exhibition schedule considering none of the starters or key contributors typically play in the last preseason game – Thursday's contest with Houston.

But head coach Jason Garrett said Monday's practice wasn't just for the Texans, but also the first introduction to the Giants, the Cowboys' regular-season opening opponent on Sept. 13.

Bryant participated in both team and individual drills and even rotated with Cole Beasley on punt returns, although it's not likely the Cowboys will use him on a regular basis.

Last week in Oxnard, Bryant got limited reps on the final Thursday practice before leaving early. But this was his most extensive work since the initial hamstring setback on Aug. 6.

This week against the Texans, the Cowboys will likely sit Bryant and Terrance Williams, and perhaps Beasley. And with Devin Street (foot) still out, the Cowboys will probably give extensive reps to rookie Lucky Whitehead and veteran A.J. Jenkins.

The Cowboys do have to trim the roster down to 75 on Tuesday, and with receivers Nick Harwell, Antwan Goodley and Edmond Gates remaining on the roster, it's unlikely the club will keep all of them for Thursday's game.

Quick Hits:

  • J.J. Wilcox didn't practice Monday night while he coped with neck spasms, which opened the door for Byron Jones to work with the first-team defense at safety. Wilcox's injury doesn't appear to be too serious, since he was conditioning with team trainers during practice. But it was interesting to see the coaching staff's contingency plan in the event of an injury. Jones also did work at cornerback and his familiar role as a dime back. Still, it appears that the rookie is the next man up behind the starting duo at safety. "I'd say at corner you really have to rely on your technique," Jones said. "When you're tired I think the toughest part is the small technique stuff on the outside, as opposed to the safety where you've got to really turn on your brain and play with your brain. There's a lot of checks you've got to get in and out of."
  • After suffering an apparent demotion during the final week in California, Lucky Whitehead got back into the mix at punt returner on Saturday against Minnesota. He was also part of the punt return period during Monday's practice. It seems like a good bet he'll have one final chance to prove himself Thursday when the Cowboys host Houston.
  • During the one-on-one compete period of practice, Davon Coleman and La'el Collins had a brief dustup after a hotly contested pass rush rep. It wasn't even close to being a full scale fight, as we've seen several times during training camp. But Coleman continues to find ways to make himself noticed as training camp winds to a close.
  • The Cowboys only practiced with 85 players on Monday, as they made the first of 15 necessary cuts to reach Tuesday's 75-man roster limit, after cutting five players Monday: receiver Phil Bates, punter Tom Hornsey, long snapper Casey Kreiter, cornerback Robert Steeples and defensive tackle Carlif Taylor. They have to make the remaining 10 cuts by 3 p.m. on Tuesday afternoon. Tuesday's practice is scheduled for 8:15 a.m., so it's likely the team will go through practice before it makes any more cuts.

Monday marked the annual alumni banquet, where the Cowboys welcome back many of their former players to meet the current team. Ring of Honor members Rayfield Wright, Mel Renfro and Lee Roy Jordan were just a few of the former names on hand. Some of the current vets included Eugene Lockhart, Kevin Smith, Isaiah Stanback and Tony Dixon.

  • Garrett said the Cowboys will practice again Tuesday leading into Thursday's preseason finale and start getting familiar with the Texans as well as the Giants, their opponent in the Sept. 13 regular-season opener.
  • Quarterback Tony Romo practiced despite a stye around his left eye noticeably resurfacing from training camp on Saturday night. "He'll be fine," Garrett said.

Transactions:

Aug. 31 – Activated LB Rolando McClain from Active/Physically Unable to Perform list
Aug. 31 – Waived WR Phil Bates, P Tom Hornsey, LS Casey Kreiter, CB Robert Steeples, DT Carlif Taylor
Aug. 21 – Signed DT Carlif Taylor
Aug. 21 – Waived/injured

Unofficial Injury Report:

Returned to Practice:
WR Dez Bryant (hamstring)
LB Rolando McClain (knee)
QB Brandon Weeden (head)

Missed Practice:
S J.J. Wilcox (neck)
S Danny McCray (neck)
WR Devin Street (foot/ankle)
WR David Porter (groin)
RB Michael Hill (head)
S Jeff Heath (head)
G Zack Martin (stinger)
LB Anthony Hitchens (foot)
DE Kenneth Boatright (neck)
OL Chaz Green (hip)
LB Mark Nzeocha (knee)
CB Orlando Scandrick (knee; out for season)

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