IRVING, Texas – Friday's practice gave a lot of reason for optimism on the defense prior to a Sunday night contest against the Saints.
Linebacker Rolando McClain (groin) and defensive tackles Terrell McClain (concussion) and Henry Melton (hamstring) were all on the practice field for the first time this week.
Melton and Terrell McClain both played last weekend against the Rams. Melton fought through the hamstring issue all game. Rolando McClain missed last weekend's game, but he's still second on the team in tackles.
The Cowboys already got Justin Durant back earlier this week. The addition of Rolando McClain would give them their full arsenal at linebacker. Head coach Jason Garrett said he was hopeful Rolando McClain would be able to do something by the end of the week, but if he got on the field, it would be in a limited fashion.
Defensive end Anthony Spencer wasn't on the field after practicing two straight days for the first time this year, but the off day was part of the plan in getting him ready for Sunday. Spencer said he'll make his 2014 debut this weekend, and the coaches have hinted at that all week.
"He's had a couple of good days, but we've got to see how he responded to that work and see how he feels over the next couple of days," said head coach Jason Garrett. "We want to be very mindful of where he's been and how long it's been since he's played football. He's worked very hard to get back. He's had a good week, but again, we've just to see how he feels over the next 48 hours." [embedded_ad]
Melton's the only defensive tackle on the team to get on the stat sheet this year in the sacks department, notching half a sack against the Titans.
With Melton out Wednesday and Thursday, defensive tackle Tyrone Crawford has bumped inside from the end spot to take the reps as the three-technique.
But it's possible the Cowboys won't need him there if Melton or Terrell McClain, who both made their way back to the practice field Friday, is available in two days. Terrell McClain was able to practice after passing his concussion test.
"We've just got to see how those guys are today," Garrett said. "Henry and Terrell McClain have not practiced, so hopefully they'll be able to do something today. They've been good players for us in there and guys that we want to be a part of it. But we've got to see what their availability is."