My thoughts from the Cowboys final practice before Sunday’s game against the 49ers:
1. The Cowboys conducted a glorified walk through practice on Friday. There was no hitting at all. They did a little game planning for the 49ers. The Cowboys ended practice working on late game situations, including the Hail Mary and the popular Landry Shift when they want to kneel on the ball to secure a victory. The Landry shift as the victory formation will never get old to Cowboys fans.
2. Quarterback Tony Romo returned to practice after sitting out on Thursday. He took reps with the first team on Friday but there is no guarantee he will play against the 49ers. If he does, it may not be for long because of the team’s injured offensive line and the concerns about the playing surface at the 49ers’ new field.
3. Receiver Cole Beasley feels good after missing a few days earlier in the week with sore Achilles. Look for him to get a few chances returning punts against the 49ers. The Cowboys want Lucky Whitehead to take hold of the job but Beasley might be the best and safest option. Running back Lance Dunbar will make his preseason debut against the 49ers and he also could get an opportunity to return punts.
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4. Running back Darren McFadden took the majority of reps with the first team with Joseph Randle idle with a strained oblique. McFadden, who has looked quick and shifty, will make his preseason debut against the 49ers but don’t expect him to play long.
5. Look for running back Michael Hill to get a few carries when the starters leave the field. He has shown impressive quickness and feel since signing with the team last Saturday.
6. Cornerback Corey White returned to practice after missing the last three days to be there for the birth of his first child, a daughter named Aubrey.
7. Receiver Dez Bryant will not play against the 49ers but he continues to work on his game during practice. He spent the entire time during the final walk through playing catch with chief scout Will McClay. While Bryant dazzled with one-handed catches, McClay, a former college defensive back at Rice and Arena Football League refugee, displayed a nice throwing arm.
8. Linebacker Sean Lee will likely be held out another week as the Cowboys continue to be cautious with his surgically-repaired knee. The bad turf in San Francisco is a factor as well. But Lee, who is every bit as passionate and intense as the fiery Dez Bryant, showed leadership by running some scout team reps to help the offense game-plan for the 49ers.
9. The starting linebacker for the 49ers game will be Damien Wilson at weak side, Andrew Gashkar at strong side and Kyle Wilber in the middle. This is a huge test for Wilber who was moved from strong side linebacker in the past week. It also could mean a short stay for Jasper Brinkley, who might not last the season once Anthony Hitchens and Rolando McClain are ready to play.
10. Cornerback Mo Claiborne is not expected to play against the 49ers. It will be his 13th missed preseason game of a possible 15 since he joined the Cowboys in 2012. But just like last week against the Chargers, Claiborne is healthy enough to play and is only being held out for precautionary reasons. That’s the good news. Orlando Scandrick and Tyler Patmon will start at cornerback.