OXNARD, Calif. – Oft-injured Cowboys safety Matt Johnson sprinted toward the corner of the end zone in coverage, trailing his receiver by only a step. And then the gap suddenly widened, Johnson pulling up lame and cursing towards Southern California’s blue sky that contained a figurative dark cloud.
It is now a sad annual tradition at Cowboys training camp: Matt Johnson was unable to make it through Sunday’s practice due to a hamstring injury.
"You hate it for Matt," COO Stephen Jones said. "He’s done everything right. … I’m sure no one is more frustrated than him."
Johnson, a 2012 fourth-round safety, hasn’t played in an organized game since college. He’s been plagued by hamstring problems and while the Cowboys aren’t being specific about the severity of the latest injury, Johnson’s reaction may have been telling.
A team trainer escorted Johnson to the sidelines and then the young prospect trudged to his dorm room by himself with a dour look on his face.
This first part of camp has been all about injury prevention, but Johnson wasn’t the only player who left the field Sunday. Defensive tackle Terrell McClain, a potential starter, left early with an ankle sprain the team hopes is not serious. Young linebacker DeVonte Holloman (dehydration) exited practice. Linebacker Bruce Carter and safety Jeff Heath were dinged but were able to finish.
The Cowboys have their first day off from training-camp work on Monday. For most of the players it will be a day of rest. For Matt Johnson, it’ll be yet another day of examination.