Wed. Practice Recap: Dealing With "Dilemma" Of Rookie DBs Missing Time

FRISCO, Texas – It happens on occasion during the grind of training camp, but Wednesday's list of absentees felt awfully lengthy.

Between injuries and veterans' rest days, the Cowboys saw 19 of 90 players sit out of practice on Wednesday afternoon. That's roughly 20 percent of the roster sidelined for practice, which is bound to put a strain on a practice.

Nowhere is that strain being felt more than the secondary, where hamstring injuries have left the Cowboys quite short-handed during practices. With Orlando Scandrick taking a veteran's day on Wednesday, five of the Cowboys' 16 defensive backs sat out of practice.

Chief among those concerns is the rookie trio of Jourdan Lewis, Chidobe Awuzie and Xavier Woods. Lewis has yet to go through a full padded practice, as he injured his hamstring in some of his first work with the team back in Oxnard, Calif. Awuzie and Woods have practiced extensively and appeared in preseason games – but both players have been sidelined by hamstring problems for more than a week.

"We've got to get them on the field, and that's our dilemma right now," said defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli. "They're in the walkthroughs, but you've got to play, get your pads on, make a tackle, those type of things. It is a dilemma. It's just something we have to work through."

Scandrick will be back to practice on Thursday, and Anthony Brown has recently worked his way back to the field after suffering a hamstring injury of his own. But there has to be concern among the coaching staff, specifically about the rookies.

There are still roughly eight days in training camp. But if guys like Awuzie and Lewis can't get back to the field soon, they'll be facing an uphill battle heading into the regular season.

"All of a sudden it's your first live tackle and the angles change on you fast because these guys are fast," Marinelli said.

--David Helman

Views of the Dallas Cowboys during training camp from Ford Center at The Star in Frisco, Texas.

Quick Hits

  • After spending the first part of training camp on the Active/PUP list, veteran linebacker Justin Durant (elbow) is now working back into team drills. Durant spent the last week of camp in Oxnard participating in select individual drills. He offers versatility at multiple linebacker spots.
  • After dealing with cramping late in Tuesday's practice, Chaz Green was back on the field working at tackle with All-Pro Tyron Smith getting a veteran rest day.
  • Add wide receiver Cole Beasley to the group of veterans who continue to get periodic rest days in camp. Beasley sat out Wednesday along with Smith, Darren McFadden, Jason Witten, Dez Bryant and Orlando Scandrick. First-year linebacker Jaylon Smith also was given a rest day after practicing the last two days in pads and participating in his first NFL game last Saturday.

Notable StandoutsNoah Brown –If there's a rookie wall during training camp, the seventh-round draft pick doesn't seem to be hitting it. He continues to show off an impressive skill set based around his size. On Wednesday, Brown high-pointed a fade from Kellen Moore and came down with a fantastic leaping touchdown catch. Later, in the full-team portion of practice, he split a cornerback and a safety on a post route and pick up a sizable gain over the middle of the field.

Zack Martin –Give credit to Stephen Paea, because he beat Martin in one of the first one-on-one reps of the day. After suffering a rare defeat, though, Martin re-committed. He stonewalled everyone else he went against the rest of the day, whether it was Paea or Maliek Collins or someone else. During full-team drills, he and Travis Frederick got second-level blocks to spring Ezekiel Elliott for a sizable gain.

Ezekiel Elliott – While running backs aren't getting hit out here in practice, Zeke still displayed his speed and quickness all over the field. Out of the backfield, the second-year back can get up the field as quick as anyone. During team drills, working on the screen passes, Zeke had several plays where he shows his open-field vision and quickness. Whether he's getting tackled or not, Elliott is a physical runner, something that is evident even in non-tackling practices. 

Play of the Day

With Bryant sitting out of practice, it fell to someone else to make a circus catch. Brice Butler was up to that challenge. At the tail end of practice, Butler was working with the first-team offense in 11-on-11, when he ran a corner route toward the far sideline. The coverage wasn't bad, with a corner playing underneath and a safety over the top. Butler leapt up to make a contested catch, and he somehow managed to wedge the ball between his arm and his body, pinning it against himself before he stepped out of bounds. It wasn't the prettiest catch, but it was impressive – and it counted.

Unofficial Injury Report:

Missed Practice:

CB Chidobe Awuzie (ankle, hamstring)
DE Tyrone Crawford (ankle)
CB Jourdan Lewis (hamstring)
S Xavier Woods (hamstring)
FB Keith Smith (knee)
TE Rico Gathers (concussion)
CB Leon McFadden (hamstring)
OT Clay DeBord (undisclosed)
WR Corey Washington (undisclosed)
DE Benson Mayowa (knee)
DE Charles Tapper (neck)
LB Jaylon Smith (rest)
WR Cole Beasley (rest)
RB Darren McFadden (rest)
OT Tyron Smith (rest)
TE Jason Witten (rest)
WR Dez Bryant (rest)
LS L.P. Ladouceur (rest)
CB Orlando Scandrick (rest)

Returned To Practice:

DT Stephen Paea (knee)
OL Chaz Green (cramping)

Upcoming Schedule

Thursday, Aug. 24

10:30 a.m. (Central) – Practice

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