IRVING, Texas – They weren't practicing, but three of the Cowboys' biggest injury concerns returned to practice on Thursday afternoon.
Anthony Hitchens, Rolando McClain and Jeremy Mincey all showed up to the team practice fields and did rehab work with the strength and conditioning staff, one day after they were absent from the first practice of the week.
It's got to be an encouraging sign for the Cowboys, who would be quite depleted at linebacker this weekend if neither Hitchens nor McClain was able to play against the Packers.
Hitchens seems like the surest bet among the trio of injured starters, as he played a full game against Detroit after twisting his ankle on Dec. 28 against Washington. Both Mincey and McClain suffered head injuries, and Cowboys coach Jason Garrett didn't specify if the pair had passed concussion protocols.
"If anything it will probably be limited," Garrett said of their chances to practice Thursday. "But those guys are doing a lot better though."
Terrell McClain, who suffered an ankle injury in the win against the Lions, did not show up for practice or rehab work. Much like the linebacker spot, the Cowboys could be a bit thin at defensive tackle if isn't ready to go by the weekend. Tyrone Crawford, Nick Hayden and Josh Brent are all available, though the team could have to elevate Ken Bishop or Davon Coleman from the practice squad if McClain is unavailable.
There are much fewer questions on the offensive side of the ball. Tony Romo returned to practice Thursday after his customary off day on Wednesday. Doug Free continues to sit out, as has been the case for the past month. It looks increasingly unlikely Free will be able to play against the Pakers, ceding the way for Jermey Parnell to once again man the right tackle position.