Running back Lance Dunbar is ahead of schedule in his rehab. In fact, the Cowboys have not “totally ruled out” Dunbar from training camp, with team vice president saying Dunbar “may be able to play sooner than later.”
“[But] we’re going to be careful,” Jones said Monday following a press conference promoting the WBO Junior Middleweight World Championship at AT&T Stadium. “It’s a long year for him, and we want to do things the right way with him. But gosh, I commend him. He’s worked so hard and come so far, so fast – a lot faster than anyone dreamed he could come.
“We’ve also got to do what’s right in his best interest and certainly not jeopardize any of the hard work he’s put into this. But I think we’ve got a great look at what he can for us. I think Tony [Romo] got a good look even though he wasn’t out there with him for a lot of that with what he can do for our football team.”
In four games last season, Dunbar rushed for 67 yards on five carries, caught 21 passes for 215 yards and returned six kickoffs for 146 yards. The Haltom and University of North Texas product tore the anterior cruciate ligament and patellar tendon in his left knee while returning a kickoff against the Saints.
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Jones said Benson Mayowa, Darren McFadden and Maliek Collins could begin training camp on the physically unable to perform list. All three underwent surgery late during the offseason program.
McFadden had surgery on a broken right elbow on June 14; Mayowa underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee on June 14; and Collins had surgery on a broken right foot in late May.
“All those guys, I think, are making progress,” Jones said. “We could certainly see a few of those guys to start off on PUP. We want to be careful with them. This is a long season, and we all remember last year when Darren McFadden missed a majority of the camp out in Oxnard and then went on to have a tremendous year. It’s certainly not the end of the world for some of these guys to not get right out there Day 1. You certainly want as many of them as you can, but we want to be smart about how we get these guys ready to go.
Jones said he expects tight end Gavin Escobar, who had surgery in December to repair a torn right Achilles, to be ready for the season. Rookie linebacker Jaylon Smith is the only player the Cowboys expect to miss the start of the season. Smith had his left knee reconstructed in January and is waiting for nerve recovery.
“Obviously Jaylon Smith will be one who will probably take some time, if not all the year, but we’ll see how that goes as well,” Jones said.