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Linebacker Justin Durant, who missed the last two games with an elbow injury, was not practicing during the open media portion last week. The Cowboys get back to practice on Wednesday.
It’s a high-impact position that requires three starters (though not all three-down players) and it’s also a primary source of special teams contributors. The Cowboys have selected at least one linebacker in every draft since Jerry Jones became owner/general manager in 1989 with two exceptions: 2002 and 2004. This year, Justin Durant, who split reps at middle linebacker, is a free agent. The hope is last year’s second-round pick Jaylon Smith can help after his redshirt rookie season.
The results in 16 starts, playing just under 55 percent of the defensive snaps in a rotation with Justin Durant: a career-high 104 tackles, ranked third on defense, and four for loss.
“Hitch has done such a great job since we got him,” Garrett said. “If you remember, his rookie year he played a lot at different spots as a backup player. He started at Mike, he started at Will, he started at Sam. And really just seemed to be ready for any of those opportunities. Again, he goes about it the right way, approaches it the right way, he’s a student of the game.
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The Cowboys #81 Terrel Owens Blue Stitched NFL Jerseys believe Butler can add a speed element to a receiving group that includes Bryant, Terrance Williams and Cole Beasley, among others. The comfort level in the system is there.
“Then when he sees that you’re getting open, you’re running your routes and you’re where you’re supposed to be catching the ball,” Butler said, “then he’s like, ‘He’s doing what he’s supposed to do, so when I get out there I know I can trust him.’”
But Williams and Butler were the Cowboys’ top options at the aforementioned outside receiver spot. Jones said he’d like to have both players back in the fold for 2017, but – as usual – for the right price.
Cowboys wide receiver Brice Butler was a month shy of turning 3 years old when his father, Bobby, played in the last game of his 12-year NFL career, all spent with the Atlanta Falcons. Brice has a fleeting memory of being in the locker room during that final season, but otherwise, his knowledge of his father’s life in football has come mainly through old stories and highlight videos.