Wed. Practice Recap: RB Spot Getting Thin After Dunbar Suffers Ankle Injury

OXNARD, Calif. – It doesn't like it's time to hit the panic button on the running back spot just yet – at least, the Cowboys hope so.

Lance Dunbar came up limping after taking a rep in full-team drills during Wednesday's afternoon practice, and he left the field with team trainers after having his right ankle looked at.

Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said he doesn't think the injury is serious, but he added that it's too early to say for sure.

"I think that was an awkward tackle or hit that was made on him, and I think he just tweaked something," Jones said. "We don't really think it's a serious issue at this point."

That might be the case, but it certainly gave the Cowboys a concerning look at their running back prospects in the event of injury. Darren McFadden is still rehabbing his hamstring injury, so the loss of Dunbar left the offense with just Joseph Randle, Lache Seastrunk and Gus Johnson.

Having said that, Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said Wednesday morning that McFadden was days away from returning to the lineup, and Jones agreed with that assessment.

"He's making great progress," he said. "I think we're doing it the way we want to do it, which is to make sure when we put him out there that there's nothing lingering with him, and we'll get better results that way."

Quick Hits:

  • Tony Romo and Jason Witten took veterans' days off on Wednesday afternoon. It was especially unusual to see Witten take the afternoon off – a development that Jones called "a miracle," given that the Pro Bowler typically refuses to take days off.
  • This was Romo's second off day since arriving at training camp, as he also took a rest day while he dealt with a stye under his eye. It's probable that the Cowboys will keep him on a schedule of rest days and practice days, but Jones said that hasn't been determined yet. "I don't think he's totally determined that yet – exactly what he's going to do. The coaches work with him in a good way and our trainers do, and he's going to figure out a good program for him. But I wouldn't say anything is set in stone"
  • Jones updated several other injury developments after practice. Defensive tackles Chris Whaley and Terrell McClain both left practice – Whaley with a sore knee, and McClain with a bone bruise and a hamstring problem. Devin Street rolled his ankle on the final play of practice – an impressive touchdown catch – but he said afterward it wasn't an issue.

Notable Standouts:

  • Joseph Randle –Once Dunbar went down, Randle had to handle most of the first- and second-team reps. He showed his superior speed out of the backfield, running away from linebackers in coverage. Randle showed how smooth he can be in the open field. With two of the top three backs out of practice, Randle is tightening his grip on the starting role even more.
  • Cole Beasley –He's just having a great camp. Right now, he could probably be on this list every day because he catches just about every pass thrown his way and he's getting open nearly every time. On Wednesday, Beasley not only dominated the team drills with his underneath routes, but had two nice grabs in the 1-on-1 drills.
  • Reggie Dunn –While it might be an uphill battle to make this roster, Dunn made several nice plays all day, showing not only his speed and quickness but he has some hops for a 5-9, 180-pound receiver. Dunn hauled in a corner route in front of two defenders during the 7-on-7 drill.

Play of the Day:
In the team red-zone period, Brandon Weeden was trying to set up a screen to Joseph Randle, but the play got blown up by a rushing Tyrone Crawford, who beat Doug Free inside. Weeden chunked the ball to the ground for an incomplete pass, but instead, the ball ricocheted off DeMarcus Lawrence's right foot and up to Crawford, who turned up the field and took off the other way for an interception return.

Transactions:

Aug. 4 – Signed TE Brandon Barden.

Aug. 4 – Released TE Ray Hamilton.

Aug. 3 – Signed LB Ka'Lial Glaud, LB Jonathan Brown

Aug. 3 – Placed LB Justin Anderson (ankle) and G Reshod Fortenberry (knee) on Waived/Injured.

Aug. 2 – Activated DE Jeremy Mincey from Reserve/Did Not Report list.
               Waived/Injured LB Justin Jackson.

Injury Report:

Left Practice:

RB Lance Dunbar (ankle)

WR Devin Street (ankle)

DE Chris Whaley (knee)

DT Terrell McClain (bone bruise/hamstring)

Missed Practice:

TE Jason Witten (veteran day off)

QB Tony Romo (veteran day off)

RB Darren McFadden (hamstring)

OL Chaz Green (hip)

LB Mark Nzeocha (knee)

LB Rolando McClain (knee)

Upcoming Schedule:

Thursday, August 6

12:00 p.m. (PDT)                Coach Garrett press conference

3:45 p.m. (PDT)                   Practice

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