IRVING, Texas -- With the Dallas Cowboys' defense needing all the help it can get, three core members of the unit were at different stages of their comeback on Tuesday.
Cornerback Brandon Carr was in pads for the first time all summer. Cornerback Morris Claiborne was in pads, but was kept out of competitive drills because of a shoulder injury. Defensive tackle Henry Melton did resistance training off to the side as he comes back from a groin strain.
All three reported progress.
Carr missed most of the team’s time in Oxnard, California, due to the death of his mother. He returned for the final week of practice, but the coaches kept him out of drills so he could work on his conditioning. Carr went through the whole practice Tuesday and has designs on playing Saturday against the Miami Dolphins.
“I’ll play as much in the game as they want me to and I’ll take reps in practice next week and just get ready for the home opener,” Carr said. “I feel like I’m in pretty good shape. I’m going tax my body this week as far as putting it on myself to get myself in condition for those four quarters and those long drives, but just whatever the coaching staff and trainers is suitable for me to go out there and do I’m all in. So whatever it takes for me to get myself going and whatever they believe it takes for me to get going, I’m going to do it.”
Claiborne also wants to play against the Dolphins but the team might opt to keep him out of his third straight preseason game. He didn’t play against the San Diego Chargers because of a sore knee and did not play last week against the Baltimore Ravens because of the shoulder injury.
“At this point, I feel like I’m in a good place, the coaches are in a good place with how things are going,” Claiborne said. “I know we both wish things will speed up with the recovery and I can get back on the field faster, but where we’re at right now, I have to say I haven’t had no bad talks or nothing with none of the coaches or none of the people around here. Everyone seems to be on the same page with where we’re at with the rehab going forward.”
Melton could return to practice by the end of the week but is doubtful to play against Miami. Coach Jason Garrett mentioned Melton could play in the preseason finale on Aug. 28 against the Denver Broncos.
Like Claiborne, Melton has no doubts he will be ready for the Sept. 7 regular-season opener against the San Francisco 49ers.
“I would like to [play in the preseason] but I’m not going to push it to where I can have any setbacks or something,” Melton said. “It’s pretty much just what they want me to do and I’d like to go out there for a preseason game even if it’s just a couple of plays or a series or something. Just knock some of the rust off for a regular game.”
Melton’s rust is a little different because he played in only three games last year before tearing his anterior cruciate ligament. Melton said the knee has not given him any trouble this summer.
“If I played a whole season it wouldn’t be that big of a deal if I just played in the regular season,” Melton said, “but since I haven’t played in pretty much almost a year, going back out there would be beneficial to me if I’m ready.”