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July 24, 2013

Cowboys might have to protect Matt Johnson from himself, Garrett says

Matt Johnson is so eager to play, he might be hurting himself.

That’s Jason Garrett’s theory right now, anyway, about how difficult it has been to get the young safety on the field.

“There are some guys on your team – we’ve talked about it with a couple of them over the last couple of years – who sometimes you have to protect them from themselves. They’re so conscientious,” Garrett said. “They’re so willing to prepare and get themselves ready that sometimes you have to dial them back a little bit, and Matt’s one of those guys.”

Johnson, a fourth-round pick in 2012, spent almost all of his rookie year sidelined by hamstring problems, appearing in only one preseason game and a handful of practices, although the Cowboys kept him on the active roster for more than half the season.

And this week, on the third day of training camp, cramps caused him to miss practice, leading to more fears about his ability to stay on the field.

“We’ve just got to make sure he’s healthy and fresh and rolling. He’s a good first few days of training camp,” Garrett said. “He simply needs to be out on the field and practice more and play more at the NFL level. We’re going to give him a chance to do that. When they play, if they go about it the right way, they’re prepared. They learn from their experiences. They grow. He just needs to have an opportunity to do that.”

-- Carlos Mendez

Twitter @calexmendez

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