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MCL injury could sideline Claiborne

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OXNARD, Calif. (AP)

Dallas Cowboys rookie cornerback Morris Claiborne is watching from the side again.

Claiborne, who missed offseason workouts while recovering from wrist surgery, could now miss a week or more with a sprained MCL in his left knee.

"I can't control this, so I'm not going to beat myself up over it," Claiborne said after watching the team's walkthrough practice Saturday. "All I can do is go in there and do what I need to do with rehab."

After getting hurt toward the end of practice Wednesday, Claiborne got treatment on his knee the following day, an off day for the team. He tried to practice Friday, but came off the field and later had an MRI that revealed the sprain.

Claiborne described his knee as tight and sore.

The Cowboys (No. 15 in the AP Pro32), who play their preseason opener Aug. 13 at Oakland (No. 23), drafted Claiborne with the sixth overall pick in April after trading up eight spots and giving up their second-round pick. He is expected to be a starter alongside Brandon Carr, the team's primary free agent acquisition during the offseason.

"We don't think it will be too long," coach Jason Garrett said. "Morris is a smart football player. He understands things intellectually and he is able to carry the information from the meeting room to the field. He is going to stay engaged like the other guys who have been injured, stay engaged with the installation, with what is going on in terms of the coaching on the field."

Running back Phillip Tanner has a broken bone in his right hand. Garrett said Tanner would return to Dallas to have surgery, but could be back in a week or so if that goes well.

Receiver Saalim Hakim, who like Tanner got hurt during the special teams portion of practice Friday, is also returning to Dallas to see a hand specialist about his dislocated finger.

Claiborne signed a $16.4 million, four-year contract in time to be part of three days of workouts last week at Valley Ranch for rookies and selected veterans before the team headed to California.

While Claiborne doesn't remember if he got hit or how he got hurt, he acknowledged Saturday that the knee issue could be the result of trying to work back into shape after being out all summer.

During practice, Claiborne spent significant time standing next to a coach. That is what the All-American from LSU often did during offseason workouts and the team's June minicamp.

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"Obviously, when you're not learning on the field, it's a setback," defensive coordinator Rob Ryan said. "He's got two fantastic coaches, Jerome Henderson and Joe Baker. He'll be with them, he'll get to know them really well and they've got to stay up with him. But you can't replace a rep on the field, and that's going to be tough for him."

Ryan said Claiborne had been doing some good things the first few days in camp, but that it was clear that he was still trying to get up to conditioning speed with other players who had been able to fully participate in offseason workouts.

"I think a lot of things where he was making mistakes could have been lack of conditioning also, but he's doing an excellent job," Ryan said. "He's got exceptional talent and he'll be there when we need him to."

Notes: The team will conduct a scrimmage Sunday. ... Guard Mackenzy Bernadeau (hip, knee surgeries) and rookie receiver Danny Coale (stress fracture) have been activated from the physically unable to perform list. They won't be able to work in pads until Tuesday, after an NFL-required three-day period to acclimate to full practices. ... Undrafted rookie WR Cole Beasley has left the team after telling Garrett that playing football "wasn't in his heart at this time." Beasley took part in a Friday morning walkthrough, but wasn't there in the afternoon. For now, Beasley has been placed on the exempt-left squad list. Garrett said he was surprised because the receiver from SMU had "definitely demonstrated passion and hunger as a player." ... With several interior offensive linemen hurt, guard David Arkin is getting some work at center. He had a tough time Saturday with several bad snaps. "We cued the circus music a couple of different times during that walkthrough," Garrett said. ... DE Jason Hatcher didn't practice because of a tweaked hamstring.

Tagged: Cowboys, Phillip Tanner, Morris Claiborne, Cole Beasley

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