Cowboys LB Rolando McClain misses second consecutive practice

IRVING, Texas — Rolando McClain missed his second consecutive day of practice on Thursday.

The Dallas Cowboys starting middle linebacker is dealing with a groin strain he suffered during the second half of Sunday’s 26-10 victory in Tennessee.

"We certainly have confidence in his ability to play, but we believe in practice," Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. "He has to practice this week in some way, shape or form for us to believe that he can play in the game, so hopefully as the week goes on, he’s able to do get out there and get some snaps."

McClain, who was away from football for nearly two years before coming out of retirement in July, has emerged as the Cowboys’ top defensive playmakers. In two games, McClain leads the Cowboys with 15 tackles, an interception and a sack.

What will the 25-year-old need to show in practice to be cleared for Sunday’s game in St. Louis?

"We’ll see," Garrett said. "We don’t have these hard and fast rules. But you just kind of make sure these guys have a chance to have success. So he’s in the meetings and he’s participating in the meetings. So mentally and emotionally he’s getting himself ready to play. But we’ll see what he’s physically able to do."

If McClain is unable to play, rookie linebacker Anthony Hitchens would likely take his spot in the starting lineup at middle linebacker. Bruce Carter would likely move to weakside and Kyle Wilber would play on the strongside. Hitchens and Carter would be the nickel linebackers.