LONDON – Rolando McClain sat out of his third practice of the week on Friday, which comes as a blow to his prospects of playing Sunday against Jacksonville.
While he is not officially ruled out, it's unusual to see a player participate in a game without going through a single practice on the week. Asked about McClain's availability before practice, Cowboys coach Jason Garrett didn't sound optimistic.
"Hopefully he'll do something today. I'm not positive about that," Garrett said.
McClain's absence Friday goes a bit against the routine he's seen for most of this season. It has become common this season for him to rest his lingering groin injury on Wednesday and Thursday before practicing on the final day of the week. Unfortunately for the Cowboys, the knee injury he suffered against Arizona on Sunday, coupled with the groin problem, might be too much to overcome.
If McClain can't go against the Jaguars on Sunday, it will fall to Anthony Hitchens to play middle linebacker and make the calls for the defense. Hitchens started on the weak side against the Cardinals, and he has played all three positions at points this season. He started in the middle when McClain sat out of the Week 3 game against St. Louis.
"He's played three positions for us as a rookie, which in this system it's really hard playing one," said defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli. "He's really bright, and I thought he played very well last week."
If McClain does sit out, the likely lineup at linebacker would be Hitchens at middle linebacker, with Bruce Carter shifting to the weak side and Kyle Wilber playing strong side.
While the quarterback of the defense sat out, the actual quarterback was once again practicing. Tony Romo practiced for the second day in a row as he works his way back from the back injury he suffered Oct. 27.
"Clearly he's coming back off of this thing," Garrett said. "He wants to get the blood going through his body and getting his movement back, both in the pocket and also throwing the football. I feel like he had a pretty good day yesterday."
Despite that bit of progress, Garrett did not confirm whether Romo will be the Cowboys' starter on Sunday.
Elsewhere, Nick Hayden returned to practice after missing Wednesday and Thursday with a shoulder injury. Tyrone Crawford, who injured his MCL against Arizona, did not practice and looks unlikely to play. Marinelli said the defense will likely look to rookie defensive tackle Davon Coleman if they needed added depth at the position for Sunday.
Coleman started the season opener and played in Week 2, but he hasn't been active for a game since suffering a weight room injury back in September.
"He's got talent, so we'll see how this week plays out and see who is up," Marinelli said. "But if he's up, I expect him to play very well."