OXNARD, Calif. — Sore hip? What sore hip?Dez Bryant denied Saturday he had a sore hip. Then, he sat out four practices. But when he returned Thursday, he looked as if nothing was ailing him.“You know, hey, it’s OK,” Bryant said of his hip. “I’m still pushing through it. I feel good. I’m going to go in and get a little bit of treatment and stay on top of it.”Bryant brought the big plays back with him. He caught a fade route over Brandon Carr, who had tight coverage, by wrestling the ball away in one-on-ones. It was one of several catches Bryant had that drew approval from the fans.“I felt like with B-Carr it wasn’t an easy catch,” Bryant said. “Going against him and Mo [Claiborne], you have to battle. I feel like I did. When we competed during that play, as you can tell, I had to fight him every inch of that play.”Bryant said the mental reps he got during his four days off did him good. He now feels even more comfortable in the offense.“I always want be out there. I wanted to be out there,” Bryant said. “But I had to listen to the trainers. You’re always so anxious. I got a lot of mental reps. When I went in and watched film, I was watching B-Carr; I was watching Mo; I was watching the defense. I think what I learned a little bit more was I was always able to see coverages, but I saw it so clear today. It felt good. I felt like I converted everything where I was supposed to. I did everything that Tony [Romo] needed me to do.”Bryant said he wants to play Sunday in the Hall of Fame Game, though the decision is not his.“Of course, I care about every game,” Bryant said. “Preseason, I look at it as just like a regular-season game. What I don’t like about preseason is we go in for a couple of plays, and then we come out. That’s the only bad thing about preseason. I understand it’s a long season. Whatever the coach wants to do, hey, I’m pretty sure I’m going to do it.”Concerns at guardChris Paul received a Cowboys jersey when he showed up at practice Thursday. Unfortunately, he is not the guard the Cowboys need right now.The Cowboys are so thin at the position they signed former TCU offensive lineman Jeff Olson on Thursday, and he might have to play Sunday after only a couple of practices. Dallas had only four healthy players at guard and center for Thursday morning’s walk-through. Tackle Edawn Coughman also took snaps at guard and likely will see time there Sunday.The Cowboys are without left guard Nate Livings, who has a sore knee, and right guard Mackenzy Bernadeau, who remains on the physically unable to perform list with a hamstring injury. Guard Kevin Kowalski (knee), center Ryan Cook (back) and guard Ray Dominguez (shoulder) also are sidelined.“I guess we’ve just been a little bit unlucky here the first week or so and we’ll hopefully start getting healthy,” Cowboys guard David Arkin said. The Cowboys also signed former UT El Paso tackle James Nelson. They released linebacker Cameron Sheffield and cornerback Devin Smith.Eye on CooperCowboys safety Will Allen expects Riley Cooper to be targeted this season. Video released Wednesday showed the Philadelphia Eagles receiver using a racial slur in a disagreement with an African-American security guard at a Kenny Chesney concert in June.“Absolutely. I’m just going to be honest,” Allen said when asked if opposing defenders will go after Cooper. “You don’t want to see that, but somebody is. Somebody is going to be mad and perpetuate the negativity. I don’t think that’s something we should do, but I am sure it will happen.”Allen called Cooper’s use of the racial slur disappointing.“I am extremely offended by it,” Allen said. “I am sure everybody else is, whether you are African-American or not. We just don’t live in a society where that should be tolerated.”The Eagles are sending Cooper to sensitivity training and counseling, and Cooper apologized to his teammates Wednesday night. But Allen said the healing in the Eagles’ locker room might take awhile.
Charean Williams 817-390-7760 Twitter: @NFLCharean