IRVING, Texas – Two starters showed up on the Cowboys' injury report, released Thursday afternoon after practice.
Terrance Williams was held out of practice with a back injury, while rookie Zack Martin was designated as limited with a foot problem. NFL teams are required by rule to list the area of the injury, though they don't have to specify what it is.
Fortunately for the Cowboys, both absences seem like more of the precautionary type. Williams' injury is a bruise suffered during the week, while Martin strained his foot. Neither injury looks likely to force either player out of the season opener against San Francisco.
Calling ColemanAside from the aforementioned Martin, there might not be a rookie who has benefitted more from the preseason than undrafted rookie Davon Coleman. The Cowboys invited the Arizona State product on one of their 30 available pre-draft visits to Valley Ranch, and Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said they were thrilled to sign him in free agency.
"He's come in and showed use he deserves to be a part of this thing, a part of the 53 and worthy of playing time," Garrett said.
With Terrell McClain and Henry Melton sidelined by injury throughout training camp, Coleman has had the benefit of working routinely with the Cowboys' starters and second-teamers. He saw plenty of playing time in all four preseason games – preparation that made him a no-brainer for the final roster.
"My confidence is way higher than it was at the beginning of the preseason -- just working with the ones, and the coaches gave me confidence by putting me out there," Coleman said.
Garrett echoed that assessment. It remains to be seen how much playing time McClain and Melton can muster between them, but Coleman figures to play a big role in that rotation regardless.
"I'm just waiting to see," he said. "I know I'm going to play, but I don't know the specifics – just wait and see."
Sam In The Scheme
If Michael Sam is going to play defensive end for the Cowboys, it's a given that Rod Marinelli will be part of the conversation. Marinelli's credentials in coaching pass rushers have been well-documented to this point – so much so that veterans like Melton and Amobi Okoye chose to play in Dallas in large part because of his presence.
It's only two days into Sam's time with Marinelli, but the veteran coach said he's been impressed by the rookie's enthusiasm.
"He's got quickness and movement, he's very passionate about what he's doing," he said. "I really like that about him. Now it's just developing a guy over and over every day."
Marinelli is asked often about his scheme, which has produced disruptive three-technique tackles and speedy right defensive ends at several stops throughout the league. When asked about how Sam fit that schemem, his praise wasn't quite effusive – though he reiterated the need for continued reps.
"I think fine. You know, as a defensive end, you're looking for that elite speed and quickness," he said. "It always doesn't show up early because guys get confused on what they're trying to do, on the scout team or practice squad. It's just a process."
Calling The ShotsScott Linehan officially joined the fray of a Cowboys game week when he held his first [embedded_ad]
media session Wednesday outside the locker room. Both coordinators typically talk to reporters for 10 to 15 minutes one day of game week, and Linehan is bound to field questions about his play calls and tendencies as the season goes along.
To start off the season, Linehan talked a bit about his play sheet and the volume of plays he'll be working with during the opener. The philosophy seems to be quality over quantity.
"I would say it's fairly tight and compact. You try to kind of see how many plays are you actually going to call in a game," he said. "You'd like to go with the idea that, you can have a lot of plays on there, but there's no way you're calling 200 plays in a 70-play game."
Linehan said the plan is to single out what worked best during Wednesday, Thursday and Friday practices, and the staff will sort out the play sheet at the tail end of the week.
Dunbar's RoleDez Bryant spoke with the media Wednesday, which would usually end public availability for a player of his caliber. That didn't stop Bryant from jumping into a small session reporters were holding with Lance Dunbar, however. When Bryant stepped in front of the cameras, the attendance at Dunbar's locker increased by about 20 people.
"He's going to ball, man. He's going to ball – no doubt," said Bryant of Dunbar's approaching campaign. "I promise you that. One of the most explosive guys on the field, and I'm only saying that because of me. He's the best, and he's going to make them know it."
That certainly seems to be the hope, as Dunbar was saved cautiously in anticipation of this season. Despite boasting a mere 225 career rushing yards, Dunbar received a veteran's workload in training camp and appears to have the No. 2 job locked down.
That's likely because his skillset offers intriguing possibilities – provided the Cowboys can keep him healthy. Last season in Detroit, Reggie Bush was Linehan's top running back in the Lions' offense. But Bush's backup, Joique Bell, put together 650 rushing yards and 547 receiving yards of his own.
Dunbar said Linehan's success with that duo is an encouraging thought for his own potential behind DeMarco Murray.
"If you have similar traits to those guys, just be confident that you can do the same thing," he said.
"Because if he's done it with those guys – if you have similar traits, why not? Why can't you?"