OXNARD, Calif.– Every team in the NFL faces depth issues at one point or another. But the Cowboys' last resort of using defensive backs coach Jerome Henderson as a safety during their Tuesday practice was something else entirely.
Asked after practice if he had ever had to go to such lengths, Henderson replied "Never, ever."
"Our numbers right now are we're struggling with numbers," Henderson said. "We've got to get some guys healthy, we've got to get some guys back. So we're doing the best we can."
Photos from Tuesday's afternoon practice in Oxnard.
The Cowboys were already down to just four cornerbacks when the team reported to the fields, and rookie Tyler Patmon exited early on – leaving Orlando Scandrick, B.W. Webb and Terrance Mitchell as the team's only corners. To help them get through practice, the coaches moved rookie safety Ryan Smith to emergency corner, while Henderson donned a bright red penny to play as emergency safety.
"Just trying to get through the day – we've got to get guys healthy, back on the field," Henderson said.
Two new faces are expected to join the team soon – cornerback Korey Lindsey and safety Johnny Thomas. The Cowboys are expected to sign the pair, pending the results of their physicals.
In the meantime, Henderson said he's not too excited to have his players watch his tape.
"I'm sure it will be the highlight of their day to give me a minus," he said.
- Injuries, particularly of the defensive variety, are a trend at more spots than just cornerback. After getting some work earlier in the week, Ben Gardner was once again held out of the proceedings as he continues to fight a shoulder problem. Rolando McClain also watched practice from the sideline, as he has since he exited Sunday's scrimmage. All told, 15 defenders listed on the 90-man roster didn't participate Tuesday.
- The roster casualties that will make space for new defensive backs are injured cornerback Dashaun Phillips and linebacker Joe Windsor. Phillips had been battling a hamstring problem before the team waived/injured him.
- Patmon said following practice that he left the field because he was experience tightness, but he said he'll be fine. Whether the rookie will be available for the preseason opener against San Diego remains to be seen.
- Dwayne Harris continues to turn heads with his performances at receiver during training camp, but he won't be showcasing his return skills against the Chargers. Harris said he won't be returning kicks Thursday, though he hopes to get some work in that regard in the game against Baltimore.
- Devin Street continues to make standout plays when given the opportunity. In team drills, Street skied over B.W. Webb in the corner of the end zone to haul in perhaps his most acrobatic touchdown of camp – and for a touchdown, no less.
- Barry Church showed up at practice in pads, but he did not participate as he continues to nurse an ankle sprain suffered during the scrimmage Sunday.
- Much has been made of how Terrance Mitchell continues to exasperate the coaching staff, and he showed it again with an amusing play on Tuesday. Mitchell flew into the backfield and made a perfect form tackle of Ryan Williams, who had just caught a swing pass. The problem was that the coaches encourage players not to tackle each other all the way to the ground, and they reminded Mitchell of that. [embedded_ad]
- Dwayne Harris –Harris earns the distinction for the second-straight practice, as he continues to show off his ability as a wide receiver in addition to his special teams skills. He connected with Brandon Weeden on multiple occasions, one of them going for a touchdown during full-team drills. Harris said his expectations for the season are to earn a Pro Bowl nod. He had a chance in 2013 before injuries hampered the end of his season.
- Gavin Escobar –There continues to be an emphasis on getting Escobar the ball downfield – in practices, at the very least. The second-year tight end went for a long gain on a nice-looking route across the middle of the field. Coupling with his red zone touchdown during the Blue-White scrimmage on Thursday, Escobar continues to show up as a mismatch against defensive backs.
- Ahmad Dixon –One safety who could manage a play against Escobar was Dixon. A slew of safeties got work with the first-team defense in lieu of Church, include the seventh-round rookie. Dixon made a nice jumping effort to swat a long ball out of Escobar's hands. He also showed good field awareness, as he rushed forward to hold Cole Beasley to a minimal gain on a short out.
Play of the Day:Orlando Scandrick continues to put in work, regardless of the circumstances surrounding his position. In red zone drills, Brandon Weeden looked left for Dez Bryant on a short post toward the middle of the end zone. Looking for Bryant is a no-brainer strategy in that situation, and Weeden let fly. Scandrick jumped the route and hauled in a leaping pick, which was an even bigger win for the defense given the injury issues facing the unit right now. The veteran corner continues to consistently stack together solid practices.
CB Tyler Patmon (hip flexor)
DE Ben Gardner (shoulder)
LB Rolando McClain (sore knee)
TE Jordan Najvar (ribs, oblique; limited)
S Barry Church (ankle; limited)
WR Dezmon Briscoe (concussion)
S Jakar Hamilton (concussion)
DE George Selvie (groin)
CB Sterling Moore (groin)
CB Morris Claiborne (knee)
DE DeMarcus Lawrence (ankle)
DE Anthony Spencer (knee)
DT Amobi Okoye (illness)
CB Brandon Carr (personal matter)
DT Terrell McClain (ankle)
LB Will Smith (groin)
*Wednesday, August 6 *
No availability Team travels to San Diego
Thursday, August 7
7:00 p.m. (PT) Dallas @ San Diego
Friday, August 8
No availability Players day off