OXNARD, Calif. – Joe Randle returned to the field in a limited capacity Tuesday, less than 24 hours after he was pulled out of practice.
The Cowboys' top returning rusher was classified with an oblique strain on Monday evening, but he said the problem wasn't anything new to him and wasn't going to hold him out.
"My back just locked up on me, but we'll be alright," Randle said. "That's been happening since I was in middle school, so I know how to handle it. I know how to handle my body, and I'll be back ready to go."
That said, with depleted running back numbers, the Cowboys weren't in any hurry to throw him into the fray. Randle participated in individual running back drills, but he was held out of the competitive and full-team portions of practice.
It's an understandable strategy, given that the team is down two running backs while Darren McFadden and Lance Dunbar recover from injury. Randle said he went full speed during his limited action.[embeddedad0]
It remains to be seen what that will mean for his prospects of playing time Thursday night in San Diego.
"Y'all would know, the players know, that that's not up to me," he said. "That's the coaching staff's job to do that kind of stuff, so we'll let them do their job."
- Aside from Randle, the Cowboys welcomed a few more hampered players back to practice. DeMarcus Lawrence, Tyler Patmon and Doug Free all returned to the field Tuesday morning. Lawrence left with back soreness on Monday evening but didn't appear troubled in the practice. Patmon has been dealing with a hip injury for several days, but he worked into team drills on Tuesday. Much like Randle, Free returned to work but was limited during the team portion of practice.
- Tyron Smith sat out of a solid chunk of full-team activity during the course of practice, but he wasn't dealing with any injuries, as he still participated in field goal team and other duties. It's not a stretch to think the Cowboys would sit their All-Pro left tackle for most, if not all of Thursday's preseason game.
- Darren McFadden was spotted wearing something he hasn't had on for the duration of training camp – a football helmet. The veteran running back is still on the PUP list, but he's gradually been increasing his workload during the course of the week. Cowboys coach Jason Garrett is hopeful he can practice Saturday.
- Garrett gave another update on injured defensive end Kenneth Boatright on Tuesday. Boatright has been out of the hospital for several days and is continuing his recovery at the Cowboys' training camp facility.
- At the tail end of practice Tuesday, the pro personnel department worked out a free agent cornerback -- 28-year-old Brandon Smith, who was undrafted out of Arizona State in 2011. Smith has spent time on four NFL practice squads, and he is from nearby Bakersfield, Calif. The Cowboys may need extra bodies at cornerback, with Brandon Carr and Orlando Scandrick unlikely to play Thursday, and rookie Jason Wilson dealing with a hamstring injury.
Dan Bailey –It's easy to overlook Bailey, because he's typically so reliable that it's expected. He's only missed two or three kicks in the entirety of training camp. One of those came on Tuesday morning, from well beyond 50 yards. But he connected on kicks of 33, 41, 42 and 47 to maintain his strong percentage.
Darrion Weems –Already the favorite to win the swing tackle job, Weems got a chance to showcase his stuff at left tackle while Tyron Smith was watching from the sideline. Weems swung to the left side, opening up the right side for John Wetzel to get some reps. It's still early in camp, but it's hard to imagine a challenger unseating Weems for the spot behind Smith and Free at this juncture.
Tyler Clutts –With Randle once again missing from full-team drills, Clutts had another opportunity to take some carries, and he delivered with a touchdown for the second-straight day. Gus Johnson will be the top running back on the roster if Randle sits out against the Chargers, but it's looking like Clutts will have a chance to show his abilities as a ball carrier on Thursday night.
Play of the Day
It's not so much a single play as it is the telling indicator that, as the Cowboys worked their first-team offense in practice, there were plenty of glaring omissions. Tony Romo, Tyron Smith, Jason Witten, Joseph Randle and Doug Free all watched the first-team portions from the sideline. Garrett wasn't inclined to talk about playing time during his daily press conference, but it's a decent guess that several of the Cowboys' top starters will be rested – or at least used very sparingly – against San Diego.
Returned to Practice:
G Ron Leary (back)
RB Joseph Randle (midsection)
DE DeMarcus Lawrence (knee)
CB Tyler Patmon (hip)
OT Doug Free (rest)
Left Practice: N/A
DT Nick Hayden (ribs)
WR Dez Bryant (ankle)
CB Orlando Scandrick (knee)
CB Brandon Carr (hand)
DE Kenneth Boatright (neck)
RB Lance Dunbar (ankle)
DT Terrell McClain (bone bruise/hamstring)
RB Darren McFadden (hamstring)
OL Chaz Green(hip)
LB Mark Nzeocha (knee)
LB Rolando McClain (knee)
Wednesday, August 12
Team Travel to San Diego
Thursday, August 13
7:00 p.m. (PDT) Dallas at San Diego