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Wednesday, June 18, 2014
Cowboys adding protection to linemen

By Todd Archer

IRVING, Texas -- How careful do the Dallas Cowboys want to be during the three-day minicamp?

The offensive and defensive linemen are wearing knee braces in practice. Having lost Sean Lee to a torn anterior cruciate ligament on the first day of the organized team activities, the Cowboys want to make sure they do what they can to protect their linemen.

"I think that whenever something like that happens you want to make sure that you're evaluating everything that you're doing," Garrett said. "It certainly gets you thinking when something like that does happen."

Lee, a linebacker, would not have been wearing a brace but the team wants to be cautious. Coach Jason Garrett said a decision on whether players would be required to wear them in games or even in practices in training camp or the season has not been made.

"We're going to have them in practice right now and see how guys respond to them," Garrett said. "We think it's good. It's a good preventative measure. Sometimes guys get rolled up on the offensive and defensive line. It happens away from them, a guy falls on them. It's been a long study through the years. It's been going on for 30-plus years about the value of knee braces. I've been on teams that used them, haven't used them, swear by them, don't think they make any difference. We just think as an organization it's a good thing for us to be able to do. We got them all custom-made for those guys. They're wearing them now for practice. We'll make our evaluations as we go forward."

Garrett said the defensive linemen voiced the most concern.

"Players are constantly trying to shed: smaller pads, smaller this, lighter this," Garrett said. "There's been a big discussion in the league making sure everybody wears their pads … Sometimes you have to protect them from themselves."

Defensive tackle Terrell McClain said he had to wear knee braces while at South Florida, but he did not have to wear them in previous stops with the Carolina Panthers, New England Patriots or Houston Texans.

"They're just making sure nothing happens to our knees in practice situations," McClain said.

McClain tried to find a positive.

"It makes it harder to run a little bit," he said. "Being that it adds weight to your leg when you're running around, when you take them off you'll probably move a little faster. I guess there's pros and cons to it."