IRVING, Texas – The defensive injuries have become crippling enough that a rookie who still hasn’t taken contact in four weeks since his neck injury is now lining up in drills as a starting linebacker.
DeVonte Holloman, who’s never started a regular season game at linebacker, ran with the first-team unit during Wednesday’s no-pads practice, while Ernie Sims manned the middle linebacker spot and Bruce Carter stuck at weak side linebacker.
“We don’t know that for sure, but that’s what we’re looking at right now,” said defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin. “That’s what I say about the bye week, we don’t have to be ready Sunday. We’ve got some time.”
The Cowboys will need all that time to see how Sims, who says he hasn’t played middle linebacker in the 4-3 defense since his third year in Detroit in 2008, and Holloman can adjust. Holloman still isn’t sure if he’ll be ready to play against the New York Giants after what he described as a C3 and C4 spinal contusion, which occurred a month ago in practice.
He said the trainers and coaches are taking it slow with him and waiting until the team gets back in pads to take a couple hits and see how he holds up.
“I still haven’t hit anything, so can’t really say that yet,” Holloman said. “But it felt good to be out there running around with the team again.”
Holloman’s been a special teams contributor this season, totaling four tackles and a fumble recovery, but moving to starting linebacker would be a colossal jump for the rookie. Head coach Jason Garrett said he liked what Holloman was able to do before the injury and that Holloman made “a very favorable impression” early in camp.
One of the main goals for Holloman now is to get back in shape and work out as hard as possible during the bye week so he can physically be ready to go if he’s medically cleared. He’s working in primarily at the strong side linebacker spot, but he’s also played middle linebacker before.
“I’m just waiting on my chance,” Holloman said. “Seeing how things played out last week, it looks like it’s coming up. I’m just trying to be as prepared as possible.”
Of course, all these possibilities have arisen because of injuries to Sean Lee and Justin Durant, who are both expected out at least for the Giants game with hamstring injuries. Garrett said the Dallas Cowboys have to explore every possibility with their current roster to see how to adjust, including looking at defensive end Kyle Wilber at linebacker.
The Cowboys had moved Wilber from outside linebacker to the defensive line to start the year, but this is the time to experiment with the bye week.
“That’s not really a permanent move right now,” Kiffin said. “We don’t know. We’re banged up right now at linebacker and we’re short some guys. Some of the guys are going to be out for a while.”
Regardless of what happens around him, it does seem like Sims will be given the first opportunity to take hold of the middle linebacker spot. He said he’s excited for the opportunity ahead of him, but it’s disappointing for him to see Lee, the leader of the defense, go down the way he did.
“Guys just got to step up to the plate,” Sims said. “It’s not going to come easy.”
It took a while last week against New Orleans for Sims to even realize Durant had joined Lee on the injured hamstring list and off on the sideline.
“Last game it kind of happened on the run,” Sims said. “Durant was in there at Mike. Literally, we were in the middle of a drive, and me and Bruce didn’t see Durant in the game. It was just kind of second nature to me to just kind of take the initiative to put myself at Mike.”
Though Carter had played the middle linebacker spot last year after Lee went down, Kiffin said right now they’d like to keep Carter at his current spot.
That means Sims will lean on Lee to teach him the intricacies of the middle linebacker position in this particular 4-3 defense. It’s not all that different from the situation Sims found himself in last year, when the Cowboys signed him and he had to learn the 3-4 defense for the first time when Lee went out.
“This type of stuff happens all the time,” Sims said. “Me and the other guys are going to have to step up to the plate. I’m going to have to really get some extra time with the coaches.
“I haven’t played Mike linebacker in this scheme in a long time. Schemes have changed drastically. At the end of the day, I’m a football player, I’m a competitor, and I’m going to do whatever I have to do to study the details of Sean’s position and try to help this team out to win ballgames.”
RELATED – WEDNESDAY PRACTICE UPDATE: DeVonte Holloman returns
IRVING, Texas – With Sean Lee sitting out for a few weeks, the Dallas Cowboys showed a new look for their depleted linebacker corps at todays bye week practice.
Ernie Sims took Lee’s place in the middle of the unit, while Bruce Carter remained outside (weak side linebacker). In a surprise move, rookie DeVonte Holloman, who has been injured since the Cowboys’ Oct. 13 win against Washington, returned as a starter at outside linebacker (strong side).
The trio of Carter, Sims and Holloman got all of the first-team reps during the portion of practice that was open to the media.
Holloman wasn’t the only injured player to return to practice during the Dallas Cowboys’ bye week. Miles Austin and Jason Hatcher both participated in the practice, which was not padded, after missing last week.
Dez Bryant, who missed last Wednesday’s practice with back problems, was also participating with the Cowboys’ offense.
Several remaining injuries still lingered, however, as the team is still struggling to get healthy. Lee’s absence was a given, but DeMarcus Ware, Morris Claiborne and J.J. Wilcox also did not participate.
INJURY AND PRACTICE UPDATE: 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys vs. Minnesota Vikings | DeMarco Murray expected to start
IRVING, Texas – As expected, the Dallas Cowboys had some key players missing from today’s practice, including five starters.
DeMarcus Ware (quad) once again is not participating in teams drills, probably meaning his availability for Sunday will be in question. He’s already missed two games and sitting out a third game Sunday vs. Minnesota seems likely.
Miles Austin was also working with the training staff on the side field because of a nagging hamstring injury. Austin and Ware were joined by DeVonte Holloman (neck).
Other players not even on the practice field included safety J.J. Wilcox (knee), Danny McCray (toe), Morris Claiborne (hamstring) and guard Brian Waters, who is expected to go to injured reserve this week with a triceps injury. Claiborne will likely miss the next two games, although Wilcox might have an outside shot to return Sunday.
As for players actually on the field, running back DeMarco Murray was on the field despite missing the last two games with a knee injury. Jason Garrett said he’s hopeful Murray can play Sunday.
The same goes for safety Barry Church, who missed the last two drives of the game last Sunday with a hamstring injury. Church practiced on Wednesday and appears in position to play this weekend against the Vikings.
Also, the Cowboys welcomed newly-signed defensive end Everette Brown, who practiced Wednesday, wearing No. 71.
INJURY AND PRACTICE UPDATE: 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys vs. Detroit Lions | DeMarcus Ware doubtful for NFC matchup
The Dallas Cowboys list defensive end DeMarcus Ware as doubtful for Sunday’s game against the Detroit Lions. He has not practiced since injuring his thigh two weeks ago against the Washington Redskins. Ware missed the first game of his career last week.
Receiver Miles Austin (hamstring) was limited in Friday’s practice and is questionable. So is running back DeMarco Murray, who was limited this week with a sprained knee that kept him out of last week’s game.
The Dallas Cowboys have ruled starting safety J.J. Wilcox out with a sprained knee and rookie linebacker DeVonte Holloman (neck) will miss a second consecutive game.
The other eight players on the team’s injury report are probable. Receiver Dez Bryant (wrist/hamstring), cornerback Morris Claiborne (migraine), running back Lance Dunbar (hamstring), receiver Dwayne Harris (hip), defensive tackle Jason Hatcher (neck), defensive tackle Nick Hayden (back), guard Ron Leary (knee) and defensive end George Selvie (shoulder) were deemed good to go.
Dallas Cowboys injury report update
Detroit Lions injury report update
Jason Garrett: Dallas Cowboys vs. Detroit Lions road game (8:09)
- Defensive challenges this season when covering TEs/RBs out of backfield
- J.J. Wilcox status
- Thoughts on the current roster at safety positions
- Jeff Heath’s evolution and potential for him to start
- Brian Waters conditioning
- DeMarco Murray evaluation over past few days
- Difficulty and challenges of back-to-back road games
- DB Jakar Hamilton standing out on practice squad
- Pressure in middle vs. pressure on the edge effects QB position
- Miles Austin physical progress this week
- Miles Austin mental state with Williams and Beasley emerging
- LB DeVonte Holloman neck injury recap and prognosis
- Morris Claiborne illness and prognosis
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While facing Detroit’s Calvin Johnson is daunting enough, the Dallas Cowboys might have to do it without one of their starting safeties.
Rookie J.J. Wilcox suffered a knee injury in today’s practice and will undergo an MRI later in the afternoon. The Cowboys are fearing a possible MCL sprain but at this point, before the test results, it doesn’t appear to be a season-ending injury. The injury occurred in the red-zone drills when he battled tight end Gavin Escobar for a ball in the end zone and came down awkwardly on his knee.
A third-round pick from Georgia Southern, Wilcox has been improving each week, and made a key play in last week’s game against the Eagles when he deflected away what appeared to be a touchdown pass to DeSean Jackson. Wilcox also had an interception that was called back when replay officials said the ball first hit the ground, ruling an incomplete pass.
If Wilcox doesn’t play, the Dallas Cowboys will likely start rookie Jeff Heath, who is battling an injury of his own. Heath sustained a right forearm injury last week but said the injury won’t keep him out of practice or the game.
The Cowboys also have Danny McCray, who is one of the team’s better special teams contributor. But if Wilcox can’t go, it’s likely the club would need to add a fourth safety – possibly rookie Jakar Hamilton, who is currently on the practice squad. To sign Hamilton, the Cowboys would have to release another player.
Wilcox is currently seventh on the team with 28 tackles. He took over as a starter in Week 3 against the Rams and started five straight games. He made a career-high nine tackles against Denver.
IRVING, Texas – There were some encouraging signs for the Dallas Cowboys today as they took the field for their first practice in preparation of the Detroit Lions.
It remains to be seen if DeMarco Murray and DeMarcus Ware will be able to contribute in Detroit this weekend, but both players were at practice. Murray dressed out in shoulder pads and a helmet and was active in the open portion of the Cowboys’ practice, though he did wear sweatpants instead of football pants.
Ware did not dress out, but he did work out with the team trainers using conditioning cords. He seemed to be moving well, though it’s unclear how far he has progressed with his quad injury.
“We’ll see what they do today. They seem to have gotten better over the last couple of days,” said Cowboys coach Jason Garrett at his morning press conference. “They might warm up a little bit today and we’ll see if they can practice.”
Lance Dunbar returned to the practice field, as predicted by Garrett.
“We’re going to warm him up today and see how he responds,” Garrett said. “He’s done well with his running the last few days.”
Miles Austin and Dez Bryant both dressed out for practice, though neither receiver participated in individual drills with the rest of the wide receivers.
INJURY AND PRACTICE UPDATE: 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys vs. Washington Redskins | Austin “fairly” healthy
IRVING, Texas – The Dallas Cowboys could be adding yet another explosive weapon to an offense that was rather dynamic on Sunday.
Miles Austin practiced for the second straight day and it appears the veteran wide receiver should be able to play Sunday night against the Redskins after missing two straight games with another hamstring injury.
“I thought he did some good things. He seemed comfortable,” head coach Jason Garrett said. “He’d been running well the last couple of days. He got through practice for the most part fairly healthy.”
The Dallas Cowboys racked up 522 offensive yards, including 506 by the pass with three different receivers going over 100 yards.
Austin suffered the injury near the end of the Cowboys’ 31-7 win over the St. Louis Rams on Sept. 22. Austin missed the last two games and all practices leading up to the week. So the fact he’s been able to practice on Wednesday and Thursday of this week is a good sign he’ll back.
In other news and notes of practice:
- Linebacker Justin Durant (groin) and defensive end Edgar Jones (groin) didn’t appear to practice in full with the team. Both players were on the field with jerseys but no helmets. After the stretching period, they both went to the side field for rehab work.
- Jason Hatcher (shoulder) and Dwayne Harris (hip) were both limited and could have the same status for Friday.
- Lance Dunbar (hamstring) was not out on the field for the media-availability part of practice.
- Joseph Randle is likely to get reps for second-team running back in Dunbar’s place. However, the Cowboys haven’t even given starter DeMarco Murray a heavy load of carries, so it’s unlikely the backup tailback will be a factor come Sunday night.
NFL Hall of Famer and former Steelers great “Mean” Joe Greene was at Thursday’s practice as a guest of Cowboys consultant Calvin Hill. Greene visited with defensive line coach Rod Marinelli for a few minutes before practice.
IRVING, Texas – Miles Austin returned to pads today for the first time since the Dallas Cowboys Week 3 win against St. Louis.
Austin has been battling a hamstring injury for the past two weeks, but he was able to participate in practice during Wednesday’s open media session. He worked with the team in the early going, running routes and catching balls from the quarterback.
The Cowboys have been anticipating Austin’s return and Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said during his morning press conference he expected the wideout to get some work in.
“We anticipate him doing something today, and hopefully he is feeling good early on in practice and can do more and more,” Garrett said.
Jason Hatcher took Austin’s place on the sideline. The defensive tackle suffered a stinger late in Sunday’s loss to the Broncos and was unsure if he’d be able to practice today. That question appeared to be answered when Hatcher appeared in shorts with no helmet.
DeMarcus Ware, worked out in full pads. Ware has limited himself to just shorts and a helmet the past few weeks as he coped with various injuries, but he was in full uniform Wednesday.
Other injury casualties of the Wednesday practice include Justin Durant and Edgar Jones, who continue to work back from groin injuries. The duo did conditioning off to the side of the practice.
“We’re hopeful he can move around as the week goes on and play in this ballgame,” said Garrett of Durant.
Lance Dunbar, who strained his hamstring against the Broncos, was not at practice.
The Cowboys went through the morning practice with one empty spot on the active roster after the release of Will Allen on Tuesday. Garrett said a combination of factors led to that move – mainly the coaches’ impression of the rookie development at safety.
“J.J. Wilcox has been our starter for the last couple of weeks and Jeff Heath has been a guy who has really emerged throughout training camp and the early part of this season, so we want to give those guys an opportunity to play,” Garrett said. “We still have a veteran back there in Danny McCray, who has played for us in the past. We felt like a combination of all those things, trying to give those guys an opportunity — we felt it was the right time to do this.”
There has been no word on what the Cowboys plan to do with the available roster spot, though it’s possible they could elevate a member of their practice squad. Garrett said the team will likely make that decision based on injury concerns.
“We have a couple things in mind as we go here over the course of the week, and some of it has to do with injury and who might be available to us,” he said.