OXNARD, Calif. – With so many injuries the last few weeks, the Cowboys have had to make several roster moves just to get enough depth.
At some point, they're going to have to make do with what they have.
On Monday, the Cowboys tried that approach at tight end, a position that started out with five and has dwindled down to three. The Cowboys worked outside linebacker Alex Albright in a few tight end drills.
Albright (6-5, 260) and tight end coach John Garrett, who also serves as the passing game coordinator, worked together for a while in the individual period. Albright even ran a few routes and caught some passes from Tony Romo and Kyle Orton.
Albright said he's never played tight end on any level, and haven't been on offense since middle school.
He said defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, who coached in New England when the Patriots converted defensive end Mike Vrabel into a situational tight end, first told him of the idea.
"It felt pretty awkward out there today," Albright said. "They're interesting in cross training people and I guess New England does the same thing. I don't think anyone is the next Mike Vrabel. I'm just honored with the opportunity that they're trying me everywhere."
But it's obviously in the early stages of this experiment. Albright went back to his linebacker duties for the rest of the practice. Albright's versatility has been shown already, with his ability to play both inside and outside at linebacker.
Albright made the team last season as a rookie free agent from Boston College but played primarily on special teams.
The Cowboys lost backup tight end John Phillips to an ankle injury that will likely keep him out for a week, if not longer. Last week, John Nalbone left the team for personal reasons and was later waived from the 90-man roster.
Without Albright, the Cowboys have just Jason Witten and then rookies James Hanna and Andrew Szczerba working at the tight end spot.
*Third-Down Back For Grabs? *
Cowboys coach Jason Garrett wasn't prepared to answer who the Cowboys third-down running back will be this year when asked Monday. He said both Demarco Murray and Felix Jones were capable of handling the duties since they understand pass protection, are willing to stay in and block and can also run routes and catch out of the backfield.
Garrett said Murray has grown as a pass catcher and one of the reasons the Cowboys drafted the running back was because of his versatility.
"I think he's understanding how to run routes against NFL linebackers and safeties a little bit more now," Garrett said. "So we'd like to be able to use him more both in the play action situations and also as a guy who we will put out in the formation, out of the backfield and see what he can do out there. He's shown that he can do it, he just needs chances and experiences at this level."
-- *Rowan Kavner *
Garrett: Orton Playing Well
Kyle Orton received praises from Jason Garrett after Sunday's scrimmage as one of the Cowboys playing well. Garrett welcomed Orton's experience and said the former Kansas City quarterback has done well settling into the offense and understanding his role.
When asked to name a few standouts from the scrimmage on Sunday, Garrett tried to keep it general but ended up mentioning his backup quarterback.
"I don't want to highlight any one individual," Garrett said. "In general, I think there were some good things that happened both with some veteran players and with some younger guys. I think Kyle Orton's playing very well. I think he's really doing a good job settling into the offense and understanding what we're trying to ask him to do. He's a good player. He's very experienced."
-- *Rowan Kavner *