FRISCO, Texas – The Cowboys have one preseason game left on Thursday, but they've also got their eyes on the Sept. 8 regular-season opener against the Giants.
There's optimism that key players who have been dealing with injuries in training camp – wide receiver Amari Cooper, guard Zack Martin and linebacker Sean Lee, to name a few – all will be ready to play by then.
Now add La'el Collins to that group.
The starting right tackle exited practice with a groin injury in Monday's practice, though the Cowboys naturally will exercise caution at this late stage of preseason. The team has one more open practice Tuesday at Ford Center, and typically starters are held out of Thursday's preseason finale.
The Cowboys finished practice with only two of five projected starters on the offensive line: center Travis Frederick and left guard Connor Williams. Martin and left tackle Tyron Smith are resting sore backs and looking to build toward the opener.
Cameron Fleming, Xavier Su'a-Filo and Jake Campos filled in with the first group.
Other notes from Monday's practice:
- Fresh off the Active/Physically Unable to Perform list, cornerback Byron Jones did some individual work in his first practice since last season's playoffs. Jones spent the offseason and the majority of training camp recovering from hip surgery. He and the Cowboys had always targeted this week for his return to practice, meaning the Pro Bowler appears on track for Week 1.
- Returning defensive linemen DeMarcus Lawrence and Tyrone Crawford progressed to a little team drills work for the first time in camp. Like Jones, both veterans started off with limited practice last week after getting activated from Active/PUP.
- Rookie guard Connor McGovern is slowly ramping up his workload after dealing with a pectoral strain since OTAs, according to head coach Jason Garrett. "He's worked his way through it," Garrett said of the team's third-round draft pick. "He's been pretty limited, but hopefully he can get some good work in at some point this week or early next week."
- Tight end depth continues to be an issue with veteran Jason Witten the only player at apparent full strength. Blake Jarwin (foot) and Dalton Schultz (ankle) continue to rehab from their injuries. Codey McElroy and Marcus Lucas got banged up in last Saturday's game against the Texans but were able to practice on a limited basis.
- Defensive end Taco Charlton did not practice because of the ankle injury he suffered against the Texans, but the Cowboys were pleased with his effort Saturday. "He has gotten a good opportunity to show what he can do and he is showing up," Garrett said. "He showed big time in the game the other night."
- Kicker Brett Maher made 7 of 8 field goal attempts in special teams and team drills. He connected from approximately 33, 36, 40, 44, 45, 47 and 48 yards. The lone miss was from 50.
- Dak Prescott and Michael Gallup continue to connect. Gallup got a step on cornerback Donovan Olumba, and Prescott hit him in stride for roughly a 60-yard touchdown catch and run.
- Backup quarterback Cooper Rush also made two terrific deep throws: one in 7-on-7 drills to Devin Smith and an over-the-shoulder completion to Jon'Vea Johnson in team work.
- Kerry Hyder was extremely active for the defensive line against Houston. Monday, with the offense pinned at its own 1-yard line, he got a would-be safety for the defense when he stopped running back Tony Pollard in the end zone.