The story of the 2012 Dallas Cowboys seems to be written largely on medical forms. As the team gets ready to play the Philadelphia Eagles, it may be a rare week where the good news actually outweighs the bad, although it is mixed.
The big news is that DeMarco Murray was back at practice in limited participation. While he is not definite for Sunday, he was more active than he had been, and there may be a real chance he could come back.
On Wednesday morning Jason Garrett said that he hoped Murray would be able to do more in practice and that they would continue to evaluate him as the week goes on. It's unclear if he was a full participant in practice or if he was limited.
Murray sounds guardedly optimistic.
DeMarco Murray said this is the best he's felt since injuring foot. Today was most he's done in practice since. "I had a good first day."— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) November 28, 2012
The Cowboys have had almost no running game at all without Murray, and now rank dead last in the NFL in both total yards and yards per rushing attempt. Getting him back would be a help, especially with Felix Jones having been a little nicked up himself in recent weeks.
Of course, it would help the running game to have a more effective offensive line, and there is some positive news there as well. Ryan Cook was back in practice, and sounds very positive about being available Sunday.
On Wednesday, he was a limited participant in practice and said "barring any setbacks I think we're on for Sunday." Cook acknowledged that was a positive development not only for himself but the line as well.
The positive development he refers to is getting some of the continuity back for the team. And he is not the only lineman who should be back, as Tyron Smith was on the field and appeared to be a full participant in practice. The team may be back to the "normal" lineup from a few weeks ago, unless there is some substance to the speculation that Jermey Parnell could replace Doug Free, or stay at LT while Smith returns to his old RT spot. Those are interesting proposals, but would seem unlikely while the team is still trying to scramble for a playoff spot.
Another returning offensive player who looks to be ready to go is Kevin Ogletree. However, it will be interesting to see who gets the snaps in the game, since Dwayne Harris and Cole Beasley had pretty good performances against the Redskins. Miles Austin was seen in pads and a helmet, but did not seem to be practicing. It is unknown if he is expected to play.
Defensive line players who might be returning include Sean Lissemore, who has missed six weeks, and Jason Hatcher, both of whom were seen practicing. It may be none to soon, since Ben Bass sprained his ankle in practice and his status is unknown. Lately, signing with the Cowboys has been rather like becoming the drummer for Spinal Tap. Meanwhile, Jay Ratliff does not look to be any closer to returning.
One definite name to add to the growing list of injured players is Orlando Scandrick, who is expected to miss the rest of the regular season due to surgery on his hand. Vince Agnew will likely get time as the slot corner.
Dallas is not the only team with some injury issues for this game. The Eagles are planning for the game with the expectation that Michael Vick and LeSean McCoy will both still be out with concussions. While this could be a bit of gamesmanship, the progress reports on both have been pretty gloomy since they were first injured. Even if there should be some miraculous healing of those two, Philadelphia also has a long and sad list of missing players, so the teams are to some extent mirroring one another.