Cowboys getting back to normal

August, 4, 2011
8/04/11
10:18
PM ET
SAN ANTONIO -- For the first time in training camp, the Cowboys were able to practice with their first team offense and defensive lines Thursday.

And with the collective bargaining agreement finally approved and NFLPA certified, every signed free agent could practice. The Cowboys were missing just one player, safety Abram Elam, who is expected to arrive here Friday.

Yet the Cowboys, at least most of them, were at the Alamodome practicing.

"Nothing like football shape; you're going to be tired," said defensive end Jason Hatcher, who practiced for the first time since re-signing with the team. "I got a lot of early reps and I got to keep pushing through it and get in football shape, and then I'll be OK."

The Cowboys had used a first-team offensive line of Sam Young, David Arkin, Phil Costa, Montrae Holland and Tyron Smith. Now, Doug Free (left tackle) and Kyle Kosier (left guard) returned to the first-team lineup, moving Arkin and Young back to the second units.

Free and Kosier signed new contracts with the Cowboys last week and all they could do was run up and down the stairs in the stadium and view practices on the field and attend meetings as the league and players union worked out the final details of a new CBA.

"It felt good," Kosier said. "A little gassed, but it felt good to be out there again. It felt a little strange [to watch practice]. I felt like I was missing something, missing being sore or something, but it was a rule and we had to obey it."

It was also the first time safety Gerald Sensabaugh made the practice fields after signing his new contract earlier this week. The Cowboys had used Barry Church and Akwasi Owusu-Ansah as the first-team safeties until the team could work out new deals for some veteran safeties.

Sensabaugh said he's still learning the new defensive system and he leaned on Church a little bit to make sure he was calling the right signals.

"It went alright. I had my struggles when I was out there," Sensabaugh said. "I had 24 hours and everything is running together. It was fun to be out there, and Church was keeping me up to speed. They were calling like the fifth, sixth and seventh installation, and I was still on the first two."
Calvin Watkins joined ESPNDallas.com in September 2009. He's covered the Cowboys since 2006 and also has covered colleges, boxing and high school sports.

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