Defensive tackle Henry Melton is expected to make his preseason debut in Thursday’s final exhibition tune up against the Denver Broncos at AT&T Stadium.
Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for cornerback Morris Claiborne, who will be held out to prevent any setbacks with his injured shoulder before the Sept. 7 season opener against the San Francisco.
Melton missed the first three preseason games because of knee and groin issues. He missed the opener against the Chargers as the Cowboys were being careful and mindful of rehab from the torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee that sidelined him for 13 games last season. He missed the past two preseason games because of a groin strain.
Now healthy, Melton is choosing to play in the preseason final against the Broncos, so he can get some live reps and sharpen his technique before the opener against the 49ers.
“Melton is expected to get some action,” vice president Stephen Jones said. “I think he wants some, and we don’t have a problem with that. He hadn’t gotten any at all. The groin is fully healed, and he is ready to go. I think he wanted to just have the peace of mind for it to feel good when he starts against the 49ers.”
The Cowboys had hoped for a similar plan for Claiborne, who missed the first preseason game because of knee tendinitis and the next two because of a sprained AC joint.
But Claiborne’s shoulder still isn’t 100 percent. The Cowboys decided against chancing further injury to make sure he is ready to go for the 49ers.
Certainly, Claiborne could use the reps. Many of struggles since being picked sixth overall in 2012 can be attributed to his lack of work in the preseason. This will be the second straight year in which he missed the entire preseason, and he missed two of four as a rookie.
But a Cowboys team that is already playing the first four games without a suspended Orlando Scandrick needs a healthy, albeit rusty, Claiborne ready to go for the season opener.
“It’s not worth the risk to go backward,” Jones said. “You know those shoulder injuries, they can get sore on you quickly. After going over it with the trainers and doctors the better decision is to let it get fully healed rather than risk it.”