FRISCO, Texas – It's still too soon to say much, but the Cowboys sound cautiously optimistic about the status of Travis Frederick as they head into the regular season.
There isn't much in the way of detail about Frederick's recovery from Guillain-Barre Syndrome, which he was diagnosed with roughly two weeks ago, but in this instance actions speak louder than words. When they cut their roster down to 53 players this weekend, the Cowboys opted to include him, leaving the door open for a quicker return.
"We feel like, with the information we have right now, it was important to keep him on the 53 and give him the chance to come back as soon as he can," said Cowboys coach Jason Garrett on Monday.
There had been a lot of speculation about the choices facing the Cowboys heading into the final weekend of the preseason. Frederick needed to be on the initial 53-man roster in order to return at any point this season. But following the first cut, the club could have moved him to injured reserve, giving him eight weeks to recover while not taking a place on the roster.
Instead, he'll remain on the active roster, where he can have a chance to return to the field faster. Garrett said that is subject to change, but it's a decision the Cowboys feel comfortable with right now."If we get different information, we can make a different decision," he said. "With the information that we have right now, we thought that was the right decision for him and for our football team."
Garrett said the early reports from Frederick and his doctors have been positive, and he classified the Pro Bowl center as "a day-by-day situation." Frederick has been undergoing treatment and working out on his own. He has also been present around the team, attending practices, walkthroughs and meetings. He even came on the Cowboys' road trip to Houston, taking part in the team's field trip to NASA and the preseason finale against the Texans.
"He reached out to me and said, 'Coach, would you mind if I came to Houston. I'd like to be part of the visit to NASA and I'd like to be part of the team when we play on Thursday night,'" Garrett said. "I said, 'Would I mind? Are you kidding me? I'd absolutely love to have be a part of it.'"
As Garrett said, all of the early feedback sounds encouraging, although Frederick still undoubtedly has a long road ahead of him. Joe Looney is still expected to start at center, and the claimed Adam Redmond off the waiver wire to fortify the position.
That will help the Cowboys turn their focus toward Carolina. While they do that, they'll keep a close eye on Frederick's continued recovery.
"We're most concerned about him as a person in making sure he comes back healthy, as a husband, as a father, as a human being, before we get into the football thing," Garrett said.
Other Roster Tidbits
The first week of the regular season is always a bit hectic, as NFL clubs scramble to try to build their best-possible active roster.
While they decided to keep Frederick on the roster, they made the opposite call on Noah Brown, as they moved him to injured reserve. The second-year wide receiver didn't participate in training camp thanks to a hamstring injury and hasn't yet recovered.
In Brown's place, the team re-signed veteran wide out Deonte Thompson, who was released on Saturday.
The reasoning for this is all about maneuvering the NFL rule book. As a second-year receiver, Brown is subject to waivers – meaning there was a risk of losing him to another club if he was released. Thompson is a vested veteran, which means he isn't subject to waivers and can sign anywhere upon being released.
By opting to release Thompson, the Cowboys were able to protect Brown from other interested teams. Having made the initial roster cut, Brown can now go to injured reserve with the possibility of returning in eight weeks. Meanwhile, Thompson was free to re-sign as soon as the roster spot became available – a fact the Cowboys undoubtedly communicated to him ahead of time.
"There's a lot of decisions you make right at the end that you're just trying to understand the system and how you can best take advantage of it," Garrett said.The waiver wire wasn't as kind to the Cowboys on Monday, as defensive tackle Brian Price was claimed by Oakland. The team released Price on Sunday to make room for two newly-added players, but the plan was to bring him back to the roster after he cleared waivers and place Datone Jones on injured reserve.
Jones was injured in the preseason game against Arizona and looks like he'll need the additional recovery time. Price makes plenty of sense to replace him, given the Cowboys' lack of options to play one-technique defensive tackle.
Unfortunately for them, Price is now a Raider, and they'll need to look elsewhere for a replacement.
Practice Squad Updates
It looked like Darius Jackson might be hanging around Dallas a while longer when he cleared waivers over the weekend – but it was short list. One day after Jackson was signed to the Cowboys' practice squad, the Green Bay Packers offered him a spot on their 53-man roster.
Jackson had a productive preseason in his second stint with the Cowboys, but the team ultimately decided to keep just two running backs on the active roster. Instead, he'll join Ty Montgomery and Jamaal Williams in the Green Bay backfield, while Aaron Jones serves a suspension.
To fill that opening, the Cowboys brought back Bo Scarbrough, who was also released on Saturday. With so few running backs on the active roster, Garrett said it was a point of emphasis to keep two ball carriers on the practice squad. Scarbrough will join Jordan Chunn on the practice squad.
As it stands right now, the Cowboys still have two openings on their practice squad.
Safety In Numbers
Don't be surprised if newly-added safety Ibraheim Campbell has to play a role early for this Dallas defense. Asked about the health of safeties Xavier Woods and Kavon Frazier on Monday, Garrett did not sound overly optimistic about the situation.
"Xavier is still coming back from the hamstring. We don't anticipate him practicing, certainly at the outset of this week," he said. "Kavon we feel better about where he is with his shoulder. We will take his situation day by day."
Woods strained his hamstring in the preseason game against Cincinnati, and Frazier injured his shoulder a week later against Arizona. If either is unable to play against Carolina, the Cowboys could turn to Campbell – who they claimed off waivers when he was released by the Texans.
"We liked how he played," Garrett said. "He was very active, both around the line of scrimmage and on the back end. He is a very active special teams player."
Jeff Heath is a presumed starter at one safety spot, but undrafted rookie Tyree Robinson is the Cowboys' only other healthy option at the position.