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Notes: Dunbar Not Ready, Leary Is; New DE Could Play NY


IRVING, Texas – Lance Dunbar hasn't been officially ruled out of Sunday night's tilt against New York, but he didn't exactly sound confident about his availability.

The second-year running back was out at practice on Wednesday, although he switched his uniform for workout clothes. Dunbar spoke briefly following the morning session, and he said his odds of playing against the Giants don't look good.

"You know what they say, if you don't practice Wednesday, you're probably not going play in the game," Dunbar said.

Dunbar is one of three big injury concerns for the Cowboys, along with guard Ronald Leary and defensive end Anthony Spencer, as the season opener approaches. While the jury is still out on the other two, it looks likely that the foot injury that has sidelined Dunbar since Aug. 17 will hold him out at least one week of the regular season.

The Cowboys' Week 2 trip to Kansas City may be a more realistic goal for a return.

"I took a big step from not walking on it," Dunbar said. "We'll see how it feels. It's getting better each and every day."

Here are some more notes from the Cowboys' locker room:

  • Not all of the news about the injured starters is bad, however. Leary answered "definitely" when asked if he'd be ready for the game Sunday, and he went through full participation during practice.
  • Newly-acquired defensive end Caesar Rayford said he feels confident he could be ready to play the Giants if asked to this weekend. "I got a lot of snaps this preseason, and I pretty much feel like I'm in game shape," he said.
  • The makeshift sign above Rayford's locker might have been spelled wrong, but Rayford's presence at Valley Ranch is no mistake. Rayford has only been with the Cowboys for about 18 hours after being traded from Indianapolis, so it's understandable a member of the training staff would spell his name "Ceasar" on the masking tape sign above his new locker. But with Spencer's status still questionable for Sunday, Rayford's proficiency as a pass rusher – five sacks in the preseason – could come in handy. "There's definitely a different transition from 3-4 to 4-3 – I guess I don't really have to worry about coverage as much as I used to," Rayford said. "I'm definitely going to study that playbook and make sure I pick up everything."

  • Rayford had perhaps the line of the week when asked about his journey to the Cowboys' locker room. The first-year NFL player spent time in the CFL and the Arena Football League before he eventually received a call from the Colts. "Some people get in the front door, some people get in the back door. But guys like me have got to climb the house and jump through the chimney," he said. That's been my journey – long and hard, and I stayed the course, and now I'm here."
  • Cowboys defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin will be one of the happiest people to add Rayford to the rotation. Asked about Spencer's availability for Sunday, he said "it depends on how he looks tomorrow and the next day – if it looks like he can play I think he'll still be a gametime decision." If Spencer can't go, it'll be all hands on deck for the Cowboys' reserves.
  • Kiffin said anyone who lines up on Sunday night will have to play their best against the Giants, regardless of what his name is. He said it remains to be seen how the likes of defensive tackle Nick Hayden and defensive end George Selvie will perform, but he said they earned an opportunity with good training camps. [embedded_ad]
  • Kiffin acknowledged that cornerback Morris Claiborne's play is a big key for Sunday's game. Claiborne didn't play any preseason games after he jammed his knee during training camp. Kiffin said Claiborne looked good at Monday's practice and had a good day of work Wednesday.
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