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May 12, 2013

Jerry Jones, Cowboys focused on keeping rookies healthy so they can make instant impact

Despite undergoing surgery to repair a damaged left retina on Wednesday, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones made a point to keep a watchful eye on rookie minicamp Friday and Saturday from his luxury box overlooking the practice field at the team’s Valley Ranch headquarters.

Jones is especially interested in seeing the progress of a rookie draft class that the Cowboys expect to get significant playing time.

Jones is not just talking about center Travis Frederick, the first-round pick from Wisconsin. He is looking for big contributions from the first six picks: tight end Gavin Escobar (second round), receiver Terrance Williams and safety J.J. Wilcox (third round), cornerback B.W. Webb (fourth round) and running back Joseph Randle (fifth round).

“This is where it starts,” Jones said. “Hopefully we will be able to have more of these rookies on the field for us than we had last year. I think we have made a pretty big commitment in this draft to get these guys on the field.”

Five of the seven picks last year missed time from minicamp through the regular season because of injuries.

First-round pick Morris Claiborne was sidelined until training camp with a wrist injury. Fourth-round pick Kyle Wilber suffered a fractured finger in minicamp.

Fourth-round pick pick Matt Johnson missed minicamp because of school and most of training camp and the regular season because of hamstring injuries.

Fifth-round pick Danny Coale suffered a fractured foot in organized team activities, and seventh-round pick Caleb McSurdy suffered a torn Achilles’ tendon in training camp.

Jones said the Cowboys have made a point to monitor the rookies’ activities, contact and stretching in an attempt to avoid some of the setbacks this year.

"We have tried to keep that in mind as we take these guys through practice," Jones said. "We are trying to make sure we are doing the things as best we can to not have some of the pulls we had last year."
Clarence Hill

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