OXNARD, Calif. (AP) — All those young wideouts lining up for a chance to be the No. 3 receiver for the Dallas Cowboys are getting some extra chances.
With Miles Austin dealing with hamstring issues again, Kevin Ogletree is getting extra snaps in practice with the first team and Cole Beasley has come back strong after leaving camp for two days last week because of personal reasons. Dwayne Harris, Tim Benford and Andre Holmes also could get more playing time in the preseason opener Monday night at Oakland.
“Injuries provide opportunities for players. Opportunities to show us what they can do, whether it’s making the team, being a starter, having a role,” coach Jason Garrett said Friday. “Miles is going to be back and get himself healthy and be ready to go. We anticipate him to play at some point in the preseason. … But it does give Kevin a chance, Beasley a chance, Dwayne Harris, Andre Holmes, a lot of those guys will get more playing time as a result of Miles being out.”
Austin missed six games last season because of problems with both hamstrings. The two-time Pro Bowl receiver came out of practice last Saturday because of a strain, and the Cowboys said then he’d be out maybe a week, but that the problem wasn’t considered serious.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has indicated that he is pleased with the young receivers and, for now, has dismissed any notion of the team being interested in free agent Plaxico Burress.
“We haven’t discussed that internally at all,” Jones said. “It’s not been discussed at any level in our organization one way or the other.”
The Cowboys’ No. 3 receiver last season was Laurent Robinson, who wasn’t added until after the final cuts when Carolina released him. Robinson responded with a breakthrough season with a team-high 11 touchdown catches, and left in free agency with a five-year, $32.5 million contract from Jacksonville.
Austin is among several expected starters who won’t play in the preseason opener.
Cornerback Morris Claiborne, the sixth overall pick by the Cowboys in the April draft, took part in only one padded practice before being sidelined by a sprained MCL in his left knee. Claiborne has been going through walk-through sessions, but is not back in padded practices yet.
The Cowboys also have been cautious with Pro Bowl nose tackle Jay Ratliff, who has been hampered by a foot problem all offseason. He won’t play against Oakland, even though he got into the huddle for a play during Thursday’s practice.
“What he is trying to do is put his pads on and go through individual and he snuck himself into one play yesterday and that’s not going to happen today,” Garrett said Friday. “One of the things that we think is important is that he just starts to get comfortable playing in football equipment and the weight of your shoulder pads and the weight of your helmets. So he’s going through the individual drills. He’s looked good, but you don’t want to bring him back too quickly and go backward on this thing. But he’s definitely making progress.”