IRVING, Texas – Knee and hamstring problems continue to sideline Cowboys players, but the groin injuries have nearly ceased.
Defensive lineman Sean Lissemore returned to the field on a limited basis Tuesday and Ernie Sims is nearing a return, after both players injured their groins the same day of practice a week and a half ago in Oxnard, Calif.
"I did individual and I did some metabolics after that, which is kind of like conditioning," Lissemore said after practice. "I'm just getting all the work I can and staying focused right now."
Lissemore, Sims and safety Eric Frampton all injured themselves early during practice two Sundays ago. Head coach Jason Garrett said then that Lissemore and Sims wouldn't be out as long as Frampton, who still hasn't returned from a leg injury.
Sims could still play this weekend against the Bengals after working on cutting and changing directions, but he hasn't been given the green light yet to return to practice. Lissemore is more confident about his availability this weekend after suiting up Tuesday.
"I'll be ready to play Saturday," Lissemore said. "I'm not sure (how much). It's up to the coaches."
Lissemore didn't feel any soreness from the groin injury he suffered. He said it's always frustrating to be injured, especially right now when he's learning a new defense, but he's used the time to watch practice and get tips from Jay Ratliff, who's still out with a hamstring injury.
Despite moving inside from 3-4 defensive end to the 4-3 one technique at tackle, Lissemore said he actually lost between 12 and 14 pounds from when he started camp. He's learned that this defense calls for the linemen – even the interior ones – to be able to run up field, despite possible chips and double teams. He initially thought he'd have to bulk up, but it was the opposite.
"Last year, I was taking on blockers and holding up the point, and this is about getting up field and moving the whole entire time, so you've got to be in great shape for that," Lissemore said. "The concept is to get up field and to get away from the blocker and cause penetration, cause blockers to be screwed up, essentially. So you're not taking a guy on quick and holding the point and pressing him out. It's different."
Ratliff's helped him out in that area. Lissemore said he worked with Ratliff on different techniques before the Arizona game.
"I can definitely play in this defense, it's just taking a little bit to transition," Lissemore said. "It's a little bit different than last year, playing the 3-4 defense, kind of two-gapping it. It's kind of forgetting everything I've learned for the past three years and training myself to do something different."
Lissemore isn't as accustomed to the 4-3 defense as Sims, who played it in past stops before joining the Cowboys' 3-4 system last year. Sims began to take some reps with the first team after a strong start to training camp, but the groin injury halted his progress.
"That was real frustrating," Sims said. "I was really frustrated. I was pissed off, but it's just a minor setback. I'm eager to get back out there and my journey and my goal is still not done. I still have got a lot that I want to accomplish this year, and I'm just ready to get back out there and prove myself."
Sims had never had a groin injury before, and he heard from other players it was essential that he take his time and treat it the right way so it didn't get worse.
"I'm really trying to make sure I do all the things right, taking it slow and not pushing myself too hard to where I hurt myself later on down the line," he said.