The Norman Transcript

National Sports

December 3, 2013

Cowboys thankful for the time off ahead of Monday matchup with Bears

IRVING, Texas — Jason Hatcher is happy to have the rest and not worried about accumulating rust.

The Dallas defensive tackle and his teammates were back at work Tuesday — but only for meetings — after having nine of the previous 19 days off thanks to a late bye and their annual mini-bye after Thanksgiving.

The Cowboys get another day away Wednesday and will have been off the field a full week when they return to practice Thursday.

Continuity heading into a Monday night matchup at Chicago? Who cares, says Hatcher. He’ll take the couch time.

“You need rest in a stretch like this,” said Hatcher, the team’s sacks leader with nine. “So to get everybody’s body healed up, this is awesome.”

That list starts with linebacker Sean Lee, who could return after missing two games with a strained hamstring from a blowout loss to New Orleans. Lee hurried out of the locker room without talking to reporters Tuesday, but said he was “ready to roll” and expected to practice Thursday.

The Cowboys (7-5) won twice without their defensive leader to keep pace with Philadelphia atop the NFC East with four games remaining, including the season finale when the Eagles visit Dallas.

Ernie Sims took most of the snaps at middle linebacker with Lee and his primary replacement, Justin Durant, both missing victories against the New York Giants and Oakland. Kyle Wilber played where Sims and Durant normally would have been.

Wilber was drafted as a pass-rushing linebacker when the Cowboys were using a three-man front last year. Dallas tried him at defensive end first in the new 4-3 alignment this year, then switched him back to linebacker when the health issues arose. Now there’s talk he might be a starter alongside Lee and Bruce Carter.

“To have two new linebackers in there, two of the three positions are new guys, different guys,” coach Jason Garrett said. “And that’s a challenge. And a real tribute to those guys, Wilber and Ernie, just kind of learning on the job and learning quickly. You literally could see them getting better within a game, recognizing things better in the second or third quarter than they did in the first quarter.”

Text Only | Photo Reprints
National Sports
  • Smoke turns corner at Indy

    INDIANAPOLIS — Drivers always say there’s something magical about Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and the opportunity for NASCAR to race there opened the door for one of Jeff Gordon’s most treasured victories. It was a race Tony Stewart ...

    July 24, 2014

  • Roma tops Liverpool

    BOSTON — Marco Borriello scored in the 90th minute to give Roma a 1-0 victory over Liverpool in a preseason friendly Wednesday night at Fenway Park. There were limited chances until Borriello volleyed in a corner from in front of goal....

    July 24, 2014

  • Marcus Mariota helps Oregon’s PAC-12 title chance in preseason polls

    LOS ANGELES — Although Marcus Mariota knew he would be under a spotlight when he stepped onto the famed Paramount Studios lot Wednesday, the Oregon quarterback is getting quite comfortable in his starring role....

    July 24, 2014

  • Majka wins 16th stage, Nibali leads

    PLA D’ADET, France — On the last of four Pyrenees ascents, Rafal Majka winked at a French TV camera and tugged playfully at a motorcycle’s antenna....

    July 24, 2014

  • Aggie’s QB Chuckie Keeton talk dominates Mountain West media day

    LAS VEGAS — Utah State quarterback Chuckie Keeton got his junior season off to a superb start, only to have it derailed by a knee injury in Game 6....

    July 24, 2014

  • Heavily favored U.S. group faces off against world’s best female golfers

    OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The inaugural International Crown is unique for what it isn’t. Thirty-two elite players from eight countries will compete at Caves Valley Golf Club to determine which nation has the best women’s players in the world. ...

    July 24, 2014

  • Weir, DeLaet attempt to end 60-year Open drought

    MONTREAL — Mike Weir was well aware that it has been 60 years since a Canadian won the Canadian Open....

    July 24, 2014

  • Pyrenees help leader Nibali, winner Rogers in Stage 16

    BAGNERES-DE-LUCHON, France — The Pyrenees on Tuesday lived up to their reputation for causing ups and downs at the Tour de France: A French rider climbed in the standings, an American went down, and an Australian rebounding from an ordeal ...

    July 23, 2014

  • Mountain stage rough on Yankee rider

    BAGNERES-DE-LUCHON, France — The Tour de France entered the Pyrenees on Tuesday for the first of three mountain stages that may well determine the final podium of this year’s race....

    July 23, 2014

  • Strong prefers not talking about a national title

    DALLAS — Charlie Strong riled up plenty of Texas fans during a statewide spring tour by saying the Longhorns wouldn’t be in the national championship game....

    July 23, 2014