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August 20, 2012

Johnson works with McCray on second-team defense, hoping to start proving himself

Rookie safety Matt Johnson got back in pads and back on the practice field Monday.

It was his second day in pads since he became a Cowboy, taken in the fourth round out of Eastern Washington. He worked in full pads at one practice last week in Oxnard.

“It felt good. Long time coming,” he said. “Today was good. I know I’ve got to clean up some things. I’m just glad there’s things to clean up.”

The Cowboys were conservative with Johnson as he rehabbed a hamstring injury he suffered on the last day of the veteran minicamp – when he flew in to get one practice in after becoming eligible by NFL rules. (Eastern Washington was still in session until then).

And they still took it just a little bit easy with him in the practice against the Chargers.

“They limited my reps a little bit,” he said. “But I did some 9-on-7 drills and some team. I got some live action on punt right away.”

Is two weeks enough for him to show he belongs?

“It better be,” he said. “We’ve got a quick turnaround, and it’s going to be at New York in front of everybody. It’s not practice or scrimmage. I’ve been preparing mentally for it. Hopefully I get a lot of work these next two weeks.”

Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan said it’s too late for Johnson to be in the mix to start, but he already is on the second team, paired with Danny McCray. He got a handful of snaps with the 1s when Gerald Sensabaugh worked individual drills.

Of course, Johnson has to make the team. Nobody has to tell him to think about that.

“It’s got to be something that you think about, especially because I haven’t been able to prove myself,” he said. “But that’s something that I haven’t been able to control, so I’m just going to try to control the things I can on the field now.”

-- Carlos Mendez

Twitter @calexmendez

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