IRVING, Texas – Danny Coale hasn't been on the field long enough to emerge as a leading receiving threat after any of the first three preseason games.
While Kevin Ogletree, Dwayne Harris and Cole Beasley already provided reasons to stick around as a possible third receiver, Coale's chance will come in Wednesday's final preseason game.
"I need to show I'm worthy of a spot," Coale said. "I really haven't proven anything, and Wednesday's a chance to prove my worth. It's very important to me, and I'm taking it very seriously."
A stress fracture in his foot in May kept Coale, a fifth-round draft pick from Virginia Tech, out for a majority of the offseason and the beginning of training camp and the preseason.
Coale was also slowed by a sore quadriceps muscle immediately after the foot issue, though it didn't keep him sidelined long. He said the stress fracture in his foot was the most serious injury he's suffered in his football career and wasn't the way he imagined his professional career to start.
"You play the card that's dealt," Coale said. "I think it's made me a stronger person. It's made me appreciate things more. I can only control over the past four months what I could control."
Once his foot was healthy enough to start participating in practice, he had to gain confidence in his cuts and routes while trusting his foot would hold up. With the type of injury he had, it was possible he could overcompensate and hurt himself further or seriously injure another body part.
Coale immersed himself in the playbook while he was sidelined, but as prepared as he was, he still needed to return as quickly as possible to work with receivers coach Jimmy Robinson. Coale got a chance with the starters while practicing against the Chargers after the preseason game in San Diego.
"You've got to get used to things," Coale said. You can look at it as many times as you want on paper, but really where you learn is live reps. I've been learning a lot over the past couple of weeks that I've been back. It's been a huge learning opportunity for me, just as a player."
Finally healthy, Coale knows his opportunities are limited. He said he knows the importance of Wednesday's game, and if he isn't noticeable as a receiver and on special teams, it's possible his days as a Cowboy could be numbered.
"It's huge, especially coming off injury, only getting limited reps against St. Louis," Coale said. "The plan wasn't to get any special teams reps, anything like that, getting some offensive snaps, see how it felt running for the first game. Now I'm able to do some special teams. I think that's really where a rookie can contribute."