Rolando McClain had no interest in discussing his first day back with the Dallas Cowboys. He joked that his time with reporters would come whenever Dez Bryant graced the locker room with his presence.
But McClain appeared to be in good spirits and only offered that he is feeling “as good as I can” at this point in the off-season as he headed out of the locker room. McClain continues to recover from surgery on his right knee that he underwent not too long before off-season practices began.
McClain isn’t expected to do much on-field work during the team’s mandatory three-day minicamp that started Tuesday. He went through the morning walk-through, but spent minimal time on the field during the afternoon practice session.
But simply having McClain on hand was a plus for the Cowboys after he skipped voluntary team organized activities earlier this month. Coach Jason Garrett also expressed optimism that McClain will be a full-go when training camp starts late next month in Oxnard, Calif.
“I don’t want to make any projections,” Garrett said, “but certainly he’s made a lot of progress, and we feel good about where he is.”
McClain, 25, resurrected his career with the team a season ago, going from first-round bust with the Oakland Raiders to being discussed as the comeback player of the year in his debut season with the Cowboys.
“We tried to create an environment for him to come be his best,” Garrett said. “And I think he just embraced the opportunity. He was at the right place in his life to focus on football again.
“He’s just a really good player. He’s a good system fit, he plays with a tenacity and a relentlessness that is really, really good for your football team.”
McClain played in 13 regular-season games for the Cowboys, racking up 108 tackles with nine tackles for loss, five quarterback pressures and five passes defended, according to the coaches’ stats.
He was limited in the playoffs with concussion-like symptoms, and did not register any postseason stats.
The Cowboys re-signed McClain to a one-year, $3 million deal.
Doug Free continues to rehab from left foot surgery earlier this off-season, and admitted there is a sense that he is behind the rest of the team.
However, the right tackle said he has no doubt that he’ll be full-go when training camp begins.
“I’ve done the mental preparation the best I can and also the physical stuff, what I can do, I’ve been keeping up with,” Free said. “Just planning on getting into training camp a little fresher maybe than some other people and working extra hard.”
Free, 31, re-signed with the Cowboys instead of exploring the free-agent market.
▪ Safety J.J. Wilcox missed practice Tuesday, and will be limited the rest of minicamp as he deals with plantar fasciitis. He is expected to be ready by training camp.
▪ The Cowboys announced they will have joint practices against the St. Louis Rams on Aug. 17-18 during training camp in Oxnard.
Drew Davison, 817-390-7760