The Dallas Cowboys are scrambling to cover themselves on the defensive line for Sunday night.They are planning to bring back defensive tackle Jerome Long, released at the end of training camp, and have him active against the New York Giants after the loss of another lineman.Ben Bass was put on injured reserve Friday after suffering a separated shoulder in practice on Thursday. Additionally, the Cowboys have been working newly acquired defensive end Caesar Rayford at defensive tackle.“You hear me say this a lot, but injuries provide opportunities, and there are some great stories of someone getting hurt, somebody stepping in and showing what they can do, and that guy becomes a starter and becomes a great player in this league,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said before the Bass move was announced. “We have those examples on this football team.”Bass is the second defensive end lost for the season. The Cowboys lost Tyrone Crawford to an Achilles injury in the first practice of training camp. Since then, they have placed defensive tackle Jay Ratliff on the physically-unable-to-perform list, meaning he will miss at least the first six weeks.The Cowboys acquired two defensive ends in the past week. In addition to trading for Rayford from the Indianapolis Colts, they got Edgar Jones from Kansas City.Spencer holds hopeThe Cowboys did not list Anthony Spencer as out for the Giants, and he held out hope, too.“I’ve got to listen to my body, and right now it’s saying it’s not ready. But who knows on Sunday?” he said.The Cowboys did, however, rule out running back Lance Dunbar (foot) and safety Danny McCray (hamstring).Spencer has not practiced since the first days of training camp after knee surgery, although he has tried some conditioning work in the past week. He said it is harder for him to stay disciplined in his rehab knowing that the Cowboys got thinner on the defensive line.“I love to play football, and I try to be out there as much as possible. At the same time, I don’t want to pressure and hurt myself, which I have a habit of doing time to time,” Spencer said.Help appreciatedJason Hatcher said today’s NFL offenses require defensive linemen to be in top shape.“It’s called red ball. They just attack you,” Hatcher said Friday after watching the Baltimore-Denver game the night before. “If they know you’re a good defense and you can really get to the quarterback, they try to wear you down early in the game so you won’t have nothing left in the fourth quarter. So we’ve got to do a good job of just rotating guys, and we’ll be OK.”Hatcher was optimistic about how Jerome Long and Landon Cohen could help in place of the Cowboys’ injured players on the defensive line.“He understands the scheme better than anybody,” Hatcher said of Long. “He’s just one of those guys who got caught up in the numbers game. I thought he did a great job. … And you’ve got Cohen. He can play 3-technique and nose tackle. So we’re really not worried about the game at all.”Winded but readySecond-year cornerback Morris Claiborne said he still got winded this week in practice, but he feels ready to play Sunday despite missing four weeks of practice and all the preseason games with a knee injury.“I feel good. I feel ready to play,” he said. Waters effectCowboys owner Jerry Jones said one of the benefits of adding Brian Waters is that it makes backups of Mackenzy Bernadeau and Phil Costa.“He solidifies so much in our numbers,” Jones said Friday on his radio show on KRLD/105.3 FM The Fan. “He takes starters for us in Bernadeau and even Costa — who has started — and he potentially has them backing up in key roles. For instance, we only take seven offensive linemen to the game. That’s the proper amount to dress out relative to the numbers we need on the 45 we dress out. We’ve got some people who have started as backups.”Star guestsJerry Jones said on his radio show that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and NBA stars LeBron James and Chris Paul will be guests at Sunday night’s game.BrieflyParking lots open at 2 p.m. Sunday. Plazas open at 4:30 p.m. and stadium gates at 5:30 p.m.
Carlos Mendez, 817-390-7407 Twitter: @calexmendez