FRISCO, Texas – It's one thing to hear optimistic reports about Zack Martin's condition. It's another thing to ask him personally: does he plan on being ready for the season opener?
"Oh yeah, no question," Martin said on Thursday afternoon.
Martin is actually already back in pads, less than a week after hyperextending his knee in Saturday's preseason game against Cincinnati. The Cowboys' All-Pro guard isn't mixing back into practice yet, but he got into uniform to continue his rehab from the injury – and to keep himself from falling out of the routine.
"I don't really like going a couple weeks without putting pads on, so today I put pads on and just did some conditioning – light, individual stuff. That's good for me," Martin said.
That's some great news for an offensive line that is already dealing with a long list of problems. Travis Frederick was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre Syndrome this week, and Joe Looney has taken over as the Cowboys' starting center in the interim. Fellow veteran Marcus Martin is also on injured reserve after damaging a ligament in his toe two weeks ago.
The problems looked like they were going to get worse on Thursday, as La'el Collins left the lineup with an ankle injury. Following practice, Collins said he was simply stepped on and that it wasn't a big deal.
"I think when it's time to go, we'll be alright," Collins said. "Right now, we're just trying to not let these little things become big things."
Part of that will involve some time off. It doesn't sound like Martin is going to play again during the preseason, while the other starters will be used sparingly.
But with Frederick's status up in the air, the Cowboys can at least fall back on good news for the rest of their line.
Quick Hits From Practice
· Wide receiver Deonte Thompson (Achilles' tightness) returned to practice for the first time since the early portion of camp in Oxnard and made multiple catches in seven-on-seven work.
· Nice battle between rookie guard Connor Williams and defensive tackle Antwaun Woods in the "compete" drill. The defense erupted when Woods pushed Williams back and down onto the turf. But the following rep, Williams held his leverage and prevented Woods from penetrating the pocket.
· Rookie receiver Michael Gallup dropped a touchdown in seven-on-seven drills, but later in team drills he made one of the best catches this year's camp, leaping to haul in Dak Prescott's pass down the left sideline against Chidobe Awuzie.
· It's well-documented that linebacker Jaylon Smith is moving much better in his second training camp. But his instincts were on display in team drills, first anticipating Prescott's flare pass to Allen Hurns and making the stop, then swarming tight end Geoff Swaim to stop him short of the goal line.