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July 29, 2013

Ron Leary returns to practice, says he's no longer guessing and reacting about offensive formations

Ron Leary, who practiced Monday for the first time in training camp, said his rookie year helped him understand offenses and formations, and he is not guessing anymore.

“Everything’s slower now. I see stuff happening,” he said after being cleared. He missed the first seven practices because of a calf strain he suffered in a workout a few days before the team left for Oxnard. “I can tell by the way defenses line up now, instead of having to guess and react to everything.”

Leary was optimistic after a good offseason in which he got to work primarily with the first unit as starters Nate Livings (knee) and Mackenzy Bernadeau (shoulder surgery) did rehab work. Neither Livings nor Bernadeau were ready to go at the start of camp, either, so Leary missed a chance to get a jump on a potential bid for a starting job.

“I got a lot of mental reps, so that helps a lot,” Leary said. “Nothing like live reps, actually being in there. So I have to do a lot of catch-up.”

Leary was signed as an undrafted free agent out of Memphis in 2012. The Cowboys gave him their highest signing bonus for an undrafted free agent that year, evidence of their high interest in him despite a potential knee problem that could give him trouble later in his career.

He was signed to the practice squad before being elevated to the active roster for the final game last year. Another team wanted to sign him, and the Cowboys had to promote him or lose him.

“Just meant that the Cowboys expect a lot out of me, for them to do that instead of letting another team grab me,” Leary said. “Now I feel like I owe them something, for doing that, showing faith in me, so I’ve just got to prove to them that they made the right decision.”

-- Carlos Mendez

Twitter @calexmendez

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