OXNARD, Calif. – The cavalry is on its way back.
Safety Barry Church, linebackers Rolando McClain and Will Smith and cornerbacks Morris Claiborne and Sterling Moore returned to practice in some fashion Saturday. All five of those players missed the first preseason game.
They didn't all participate fully, but they all returned for at least individual drills with the team. Also on the field was Brandon Carr, who got some first-team work, but he wasn't in full pads and was being eased in. Marinelli hopes the secondary, with the addition of Carr, can help buy time for the pass rush to get there.
"Our strength right now are those corners are really good, and we think we've got some good safeties," said defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli. "We can do some things with those guys to help us."
Safeties Ahmad Dixon (concussion-like symptoms) and Jakar Hamilton (jaw), cornerback Tyler Patmon (hip) and defensive ends Ben Gardner (shoulder) and George Selvie (groin) were among the players out for practice.
Marinelli said Dixon was solid all around in the preseason opener and earned himself more opportunities with the ones and twos when he returns.
"It's the first time where it was really live where he could really go after it," Marinelli said. "I think that's a big part of his game. He's very, very physical, and he covers some ground. There's something about competitive speed, and he carries his pads very well. He put out some solid tape."
In addition, guard/center Ronald Patrick left practice with what appeared to be a serious ankle injury. Defensive tackle Henry Melton also banged knees with Tyrone Crawford and limped off, but he appears to be all right.
Photos from Saturday's afternoon practice in Oxnard.
- Patmon said he's still day-to-day with a hip flexor injury, but he hopes to be ready before the next preseason game.
- While there has been some talk here lately of Tony Romo struggling at times with the deep pass, including some comments about inconsistency in that area from quarterbacks coach Wade Wilson, he did his best to quiet that notion during Saturday's practice. Romo connected on at least three deep balls of 40 yards or more, including a pair to wide receiver Terrance Williams in team drills. He also threw a strike to tight end Gavin Escobar, who went up over Orlando Scandrick to haul in the pass in traffic.
- Marinelli wants to see what Davon Coleman can do against starters after a strong start to camp. The defensive tackle started the preseason game, and Marinelli said his play wasn't quite good enough, and he needs to be more consistent.
- The defensive coordinator also shifted some of the blame for a rough defensive effort away from the players.
"It's not just players," Marinelli said. "We missed tackles, coaches missed tackles, too. The things we wanted, how hard we wanted to play, we didn't get that conveyed to them well enough as coaches. It was not good enough, by coaches or players."
- Marinelli did praise the effort of defensive tackle Ken Bishop for chasing down a running back more than 20 yards downfield in the preseason opener, saying that type of effort is how players get noticed.
- Former Dallas Cowboys linebacker/defensive end Matt Vanderbeek was at Cowboys practice today.
- Actor Connor Paolo from ABC's Revenge attended Cowboys practice today.
- Gavin Escobar –The second-year tight end had a contender for the play of the day with an impressive catch during full team drills. Escobar ran a deep flag toward the far sideline, and Romo found him roughly 25 yards downfield. Orlando Scandrick and DeVonte Holloman blanketed the tight end in coverage, and Scandrick jumped to get a hand on it. Somehow, Escobar came down with the big gain.
- Tyron Smith –Ho, hum – Tyron Smith spent another practice wiping out defensive ends. The left tackle was strong in his work, both in full team and individual drills. One particular rep stood out, as Smith tossed Martez Wilson to the ground. Jeremy Mincey got past Smith on one occasion, but the coaching staff had the two go again. Smith won the rematch.
- Barry Church –Church returned to practice for the first time since last week's Blue-White scrimmage, and he got after it. He was all over the field in full team drills, and he laid several sizable pops – on players and non-players. Church was involved in big hits on Cole Beasley and Joseph Randle. Toward the tail end of practice, he and Jason Witten vied for a pass and wound up smashing into Cowboys photographer James Smith on the sideline. Smith was uninjured on the play – as were the players.
Play of the Day:Terrance Williams has looked impressive throughout training camp, so it's a big statement that he had his best catch to date on Saturday. In full team drills, Williams tore off down the right sideline against B.W. Webb. Romo, who threw far more deep balls than usual this practice, uncorked a deep ball toward the pair. Williams had two steps on Webb, but the ball was slightly overthrown. The second-year receiver tracked the ball down, found it in flight and extended for a phenomenal diving catch.
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August 9 – The Dallas Cowboys waived rookie free agent punter Cody Mandell (Alabama) and Waived/Injured rookie free agent running back Ben Malena (Texas A&M) on Saturday. The club also signed rookie running back D.J. Adams (Portland State).
Sunday, August 10
12:00 p.m. (PDT) Coach Garrett press conference
3:45 p.m. (PDT) Practice
Monday, August 11
No availability Players day off
Tuesday, August 12
10:30 a.m. (PDT) Walkthrough (Oakland Raiders)
12:00 p.m. (PDT) Coach Garrett press conference
3:45 p.m. (PDT) Practice (Oakland Raiders)