Injuries keep KOing Cowboys; Dez to miss next game

Scratch two more Dallas Cowboys starters with injuries, making
it four this preseason.

And it’s looking less likely Dez Bryant will play in any
exhibition games, either.

The bright side, said coach Wade Phillips, is that almost
everyone is expected back for the season opener.

Free safety Gerald Sensabaugh and inside linebacker Keith
Brooking are sitting out because of shoulder injuries. Both were
hurt in the preseason game, against San Diego on Saturday
night.

Sensabaugh is likely to be back for the opener Sept. 12. He
posted on Twitter, ”I should be ready by Washington. Rehab going
great …” Mike Hamlin replaced Sensabaugh on the first team
Monday. It was Hamlin’s first practice since suffering a
concussion.

Brooking’s injury isn’t as bad, but there’s a good chance he’ll
get both games off. Besides the shoulder problem, he’s coming off
knee surgery, he’s 34 and he’s played well in his limited action
thus far. Plus, his absence means more playing time for
second-round draft pick Sean Lee, who can use the extra work after
missing the first two preseason games with an injury.

Lee got off to a good start by making 13 tackles against the
Chargers in his NFL debut. Phillips said there were plenty of
mistakes, too, but he raved, ”That guy was all over the
field.”

”He made some plays a lot of people can’t make,” Phillips
said.

Dallas lost two offensive linemen last week, with right tackle
Marc Colombo and left guard Kyle Kosier going down with knee
injuries. Colombo is expected back for the opener but Kosier is out
for up to three games; he’s the only guy already expected to miss
the opener.

Robert Brewster started in Colombo’s place against the Chargers
and ”still has a ways to go” before he’s ready. So veteran Alex
Barron joined the first team Monday in his first practice since
returning from an ankle injury. Barron was acquired from St. Louis
in the offseason as an insurance policy at both tackle spots.

Montrae Holland did so well in Kosier’s place that Phillips let
him lead the end of practice cheer in the group huddle. Phillips
picks a different player every day and this time he pointed out it
was a reward for Holland’s steady performance against the Chargers.
Players broke into a Florida State chant, a nod to Holland’s alma
mater.

Bryant has been expected all along to be ready to face the
Redskins. It’s whether he can get into a game before then that
keeps changing.

He was told Monday that he won’t be playing against Houston on
Saturday night. That leaves only the preseason finale next Thursday
against Miami.

”It’s very frustrating,” Bryant said. ”At the same time, I’ve
got to look at the big picture, and that’s the Washington
Redskins.”

Bryant ran and cut Monday for the first time since the injury.
He also went over routes on the field with receiver coach Ray
Sherman before practice, then afterward with offensive coordinator
Jason Garrett.

”I feel great,” said Bryant, adding that he’s dropped 10
pounds through the rehabilitation drills, taking him to 213. His
preferred playing weight is 214.

Bryant is so eager to play that he came out to the practice
field wearing game pants.

”I know I’ll be practicing sooner or later, so I just wanted to
get the feel,” he said. ”I just look at the big picture. That’s
how I keep myself calm.”

Former Ultimate Fighting Champion Chuck Liddell watched practice
Monday and spoke to the club at the start of their workout.

”His message was ‘dominate your opponent, impose your will upon
them,”’ Phillips said. ”It’s a good message for football, too,
especially the line play. You’re trying to whip the guy in front of
you.”