IRVING, Texas – The Cowboys are still without two key cogs on defense.
Linebacker Rolando McClain (groin) and defensive tackle Henry Melton (hamstring) weren't on the practice field early Thursday with the Saints on the horizon this weekend.
Head coach Jason Garrett said he was hopeful McClain would be able to do something Thursday after going through the walkthrough, but he wasn't on the field when practice began. He also thought Melton would be able to practice in "a limited fashion," but he wasn't on the field to start the day.
The good news for the defense is linebacker Justin Durant should be good to go now coming off his groin injury, and defensive tackle Davon Coleman (calf) made his way back to the practice field as well. Defensive end Anthony Spencer was also on the practice field for the second straight day, but defensive tackle Terrell McClain (concussion) was still out Thursday.
With most of the three-technique defensive tackles banged up, Garrett said he's had to bump defensive ends inside. That could include more work as a tackle for Tyrone Crawford.
Spencer's mixed in during team drills the last couple days, and Garrett said he's done more this week than last week. Garrett wouldn't specify how many snaps Spencer would need to justify activating him for Sunday's game, but he said he should have a better idea on his availability against the Saints as the week goes on. [embedded_ad]
"The biggest thing with Anthony is just to get him healthy," Garrett said. "So we're going to kind of continue to use this week to do that and see where he is as the week goes on. Hopefully, he will be a viable player for us this week. If not, it will be next week or in the coming weeks."
As expected, quarterback Tony Romo returned to the field after his Wednesday off day. Garrett said he thought Romo's body responded well after sitting out.