ARLINGTON — Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones expects the NFL to make a decision on defensive tackle Josh Brent before final cuts on Saturday.Brent applied for reinstatement to the league earlier this month after completing his sentence following a conviction for vehicular manslaughter in the December 2012 death of teammate Jerry Brown.Brent was given 180 days in jail on top of 10 years probation. He finished the last 45 days of the sentence in rehab and then applied to return to the game.Jones has been supportive all along and said Brent had a place with the Cowboys if and when he was reinstated. Brent is still awaiting final word from commissioner Roger Goodell on whether there would be additional discipline under the NFL’s personal conduct policy.“I’m thinking that it will happen in the next day or two, but we haven’t heard from it,” Jones said. “But, yes, I do. I’m just sure we’ll get some word here as we’re making this roster and we’re making these decisions about the status of players and certainly the players that are on the 53. So I would think just knowing that it’s roster-making time, we would hear something from the league on Josh Brent.”Claiborne updateCornerback Morris Claiborne did not play Thursday and missed the entire preseason for a second consecutive season. He’s had an injury-riddled career so far and the latest setback is a sprained AC joint in his right shoulder.There is still pain in the shoulder, but Claiborne says he can play through it. He’s been wearing an additional pad during practices and said after Thursday’s game that he’ll receive a pain-killing injection before the season opener Sept. 7 against San Francisco.That could go on for more games, too.“I have all my range of motion,” Claiborne said. “The pain is there and it’s not going anywhere.”Defensive studyThe Cowboys’ defense finished third worst in NFL history last season.DeMarcus Ware and Jason Hatcher left in the off-season, and Sean Lee was injured before training camp. Their starting defensive line has yet to play a game together, with defensive tackle Henry Melton having missed the preseason. Their starting cornerbacks haven’t been on the field together yet either, with Claiborne missing time with knee and shoulder injuries.In four preseason games, they gave up 633 rushing yards and an average of 36 points. Yet, Jones remains confident that the unit is improved from last season.“I think the defense is much improved, much improved,” Jones said. “We know our scheme better and we’ve got players that can execute.”Dixon finedRookie safety Ahmad Dixon was fined $22,050 by the NFL for hitting a defenseless receiver in the head and neck area. Dixon was flagged for unnecessary roughness on the play in a preseason game against Miami.Dixon can appeal the fine and possibly get it reduced because it exceeds 25 percent of his weekly pay. The seventh-round pick from Baylor will make $420,000 this season, $24,705 for each of 17 weeks.Rookie linebacker Anthony Hitchens was fined $8,268 by the NFL for a facemask penalty in the Dolphins game.
Clarence E. Hill Jr., 817-390-7760 Twitter: @clarencehilljr