FRISCO, Texas – The Cowboys have been steadfast in their claim that Tyron Smith's bone spur issue in his ankle is not something they are concerned about as a long-term problem, but the All-Pro left tackle's timetable for return is still up in the air.
Head coach Mike McCarthy said Wednesday morning ahead of the day's practice that Smith would be in the rehab group, meaning he will not practice with the team. McCarthy then made a point to say that Smith had "made progress" with injury.
Regardless of Smith's availability, the Cowboys will need their veteran stars to play at a high level against Atlanta in order to bounce back from Sunday's disappointing loss to the Broncos. But according to McCarthy, some of those veterans also need their body to rest in order to achieve that level for the rest of the season.
Ezekiel Elliott (knee), Amari Cooper (hamstring), Zack Martin, and Randy Gregory (knee) are all part of what McCarthy referred to as the "veteran Wednesday group." According to the head coach, that means the starting running back, wide receiver, right guard, and defensive end will all participate in Wednesday's practice, but they will have "selected reps" compared to the other players on the team who will have no limitations in the practice.
McCarthy confirmed that monitoring the practice reps of key veterans has been the plan all season.
"It's something that I've always been aware of," McCarthy said. "That's why you pay attention to the statistics. You're aware of play time over a player's career. Those are the things you talk about a lot with the training and the strength and conditioning staff."
The schedule finds the Cowboys having to play three games in 12 days starting this Sunday.