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Rolando McClain returns, but Anthony Hitchens gets first-team work

08/21/2014 9:38 AM

08/21/2014 9:40 AM

Linebacker Rolando McClain was back at practice Thursday after missing Wednesday because of cramps.

But the man the Cowboys have been targeting for the starting job at middle linebacker worked with the second team on his return to practice.

Rookie fourth-round pick Anthony Hitchens worked with the first team at middle linebacker for the first time since organized team activities in May, when Sean Lee initially went down with a season-ending knee injury.

Justin Durant, who worked with the starters in the middle throughout training camp and the preseason, was at outside linebacker opposite Bruce Carter.

Kyle Wilber, who had been starting at strongside linebacker, took reps with the second unit along with McClain.

It’s quite a move up the depth chart for Hitchens, who was expected to be groomed as Lee’s primary backup when he was drafted in May. But the Cowboys moved the veteran Durant to middle in mini camp in June and then traded for McClain to help fill the Lee void.

Hitchens worked primarily at outside linebacker in training camp and the preseason before being moved to middle this week.

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Charean Williams has covered the NFL for 21 seasons. She's a Hall of Fame voter, a past president of the Pro Football Writers of America and a proud Aggie. Follow her on Twitter at @NFLCharean

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Clarence E. Hill Jr. has been the Dallas Cowboys beat writer since 1997. He's battle tested with one playoff win, six coaches, countless scandals, controversies and unfullfilled expectations. Follow him on Twitter at @clarencehilljr

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Drew Davison joined the Star-Telegram as a correspondent in 2007, primarily covering high schools along with helping out with Rangers, Cowboys and colleges coverage. He became one of the Rangers beat writers in July 2011, and also assists with coverage of Texas Motor Speedway and the Cowboys during the offseason. Davison graduated from the University of Kansas and had internships at The Kansas City Star and MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @drewdavison

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