IRVING, Texas – Tyler Patmon was eligible to remain with the Cowboys as a member of the practice squad, but he opted to go elsewhere.
The former Cowboys cornerback signed with the Miami Dolphins' practice squad on Thursday, just two days after he was released. It was an outcome Cowboys coach Jason Garrett was disappointed to see.
"We wanted him back," Garrett said.
Patmon was released as a result of performance issues during last weekend's 28-7 loss to Green Bay. The second-year cornerback had multiple stints as the Cowboys' nickel back before the coaching staff ultimately decided to move on.
They haven't promoted him yet, but it's widely expected that Terrance Mitchell – a seventh-round draft pick in 2014 – will be promoted from the practice squad to help replace Patmon. Mitchell was with the Cowboys in training camp last summer, but he was ultimately released.
The young corner spent two seasons with the Chicago Bears before signing onto the Cowboys' practice squad two weeks ago.
"All the same things we liked -- his instincts, his physicalness -- still exist," Garrett said. "And I think he's a more mature player now than he was, having been in a couple of systems and hopefully learned a little bit there. So he's had a good week of practice and we're optimistic about how he can help us."
The Cowboys could potentially need more help at cornerback than just Mitchell. In addition to releasing Patmon, the Cowboys are also trying to nurse Morris Claiborne back from a hamstring strain.
Claiborne has yet to practice this week after injuring the hamstring in the dying minutes of the loss to the Packers. Garrett has expressed optimism about his prospects all week, but he allowed that the quick nature of this week's turnaround isn't doing Claiborne any favors.
"The short week certainly doesn't help," he said. "We'll just see how he does. He's played good football for us and we have confidence in him, so we're going to give him every chance we can."
Similarly, Rolando McClain has yet to practice this week as he tries to battle back from a concussion. Garrett has reiterated all week that the veteran linebacker has participated in team walkthroughs, but not practices.
"He's doing fine through the concussion protocol," Garrett said. "I don't know that he's going to be able to practice today but he's gone through all the walkthroughs and he feels good."
Garrett made a fitting analogy Thursday morning when he was asked why his defense's takeaway numbers are drastically different from last season.
In 2014, en route to a playoff appearance, the Cowboys forced 31 takeaways – good enough for second in the league. This year they have a mere eight, which is in danger of setting an NFL record for fewest-ever.
Asked about that fact, Garrett pointed out that the opportunities have been there, the defense just hasn't capitalized.
"The analogy is to a baseball player," he said. "If you keep hitting the ball hard and it's right at somebody, if you keep hitting the ball hard, good things are going to happen. And we believe that. So we're going to practice it hard. We're going to emphasize it in every game that we play and hopefully these things will start coming for us."
The record for fewest takeaways in a season is 11, which is held by both the 1982 Baltimore Colts and the 2013 Houston Texans. Not surprisingly, the Colts went 0-8-1 when they set that mark, and the Texans went 2-14 the year they matched it.
The Cowboys still have three games to avoid that unfortunate statistic, but to use baseball terms, they'll need some of those hard-hit balls to start finding some gaps.
"It's not because of lack of emphasis," Garrett said. "It's the thing we emphasize more than anything else. You just have to keep grinding away at it."