By Todd Archer
OXNARD, Calif. -- The first walkthrough of Dallas Cowboys’ training camp wasn’t so much about the players on the field as it was the players off it.
The returns of Sean Lee, Morris Claiborne and Doug Free were overshadowed by the absences of Rolando McClain, Darren McFaddenand some others.
McClain and McFadden were placed on the physically unable to perform list as they work back from injuries. McClain is continuing to rehab from offseason knee surgery, while McFadden tweaked his hamstring in workouts last week.
McClain’s move was expected because he was not with the team most of the offseason as he chose to rehab in Alabama. McFadden’s was a little surprising and he missed time in the spring with a hamstring strain.
Given McFadden’s injury history -- he has played one full season in his career -- even a minor tweak has to be looked at with some concern. Coach Jason Garrett said the club expects McFadden to practice within the next week.
“I think you always want to be deliberate in how you handle these things with guys,” Garrett said. “The last thing you want to do with a hamstring or an injury like that is to rush a guy back early on in training camp and then he misses a lot of time. So we don’t think this is serious. Just want to take it day by day.
The Cowboys also placed Keith Rivers on the reserve/retired list. Garrett spoke with Rivers, who was entering his seventh season, on Tuesday before the team flew to California
“It was surprising,” Garrett said. “Keith was a guy we played against through the years. He was a first-round pick of Cincinnati and had part of his career there. He played for the Giants, he played with Buffalo. He is someone who came to us in the spring and made amazing strides in the course of our offseason program. I think he was learning the way he do things, the way we want to play defense. He went from one of the guys who you use an example of what not to do, to one of the guys who you use in front of the team as an example of what to do and how we want to play. So it was surprising from that standpoint.
“But we had a really good conversation, honest, up front, emotional at times for him, but he just felt for him right now the passion that he needs to play at this level was not there. He made that decision and we wished him well.”
The Cowboys are in the process of looking for linebacker depth with Rivers retired, McClain on the PUP list and rookie Mark Nzeocha on the non-football injury list as he recovers from a torn anterior cruciate ligament suffered last year at Wyoming.