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Raiders provide welcome relief from Cowboys' practice
Finally, it's time to smack around somebody not wearing blue and white.
Wednesday's brief walk-through practice brings the Dallas Cowboys to the two-week point of training camp, 14 consecutive days without a break, leaving everyone eager to get on with the preseason opener Thursday night at the Oakland Raiders.
"You get tired of beating up on your own team, 17, 18 practices now," tight end Jason Witten said. "We're excited to go against somebody else and see where we're at and there's a lot of challenges in that. This team is excited about that. You can beat and bang on your team, but that's when it all gets started, when you go against somebody else."
The Cowboys should have their full complement of offensive weapons ready to roll. Running back Felix Jones and tight end Martellus Bennett, both of whom sat out one of two practices with minor injuries Monday and practiced Tuesday, will play.
Offensive coordinator Jason Garrett's revamped " Tony Romo-friendly" offense will provide at least a glimpse of things to come, featuring Jones, Marion Barber and Tashard Choice in the backfield, two tight-end sets with Jason Witten and Bennett, plus Roy Williams and Patrick Crayton as the starting receiving duo.
"Very anxious, very anxious," Williams said. "We just want to be productive. We might not score, but we might drive it down and kick a field goal. That's productive. Just don't turn the ball over. That's one thing that, if we want to be in the playoffs and want to win the Super Bowl, you can't turn the ball over."
Defensively, minor injuries will keep starting cornerback Terence Newman (groin) and second-year cornerback Mike Jenkins (ankle), the leading candidate to start opposite Newman, on the sidelines. Neither player has practiced since Saturday.
Orlando Scandrick and Courtney Brown are likely to start at the corners against the Raiders.
Hodge on hold
Rookie linebacker Stephen Hodge will have to wait another week to make his Cowboys debut. The former TCU safety is being held out of the game as a precaution.
Hodge recently returned from arthroscopic knee surgery as well as a calf strain.
Fort Worth native Brandon Williams will travel, but is questionable with a sore shoulder. Coach Wade Phillips said if soreness in the shoulder eases the converted linebacker will play.
Fullback Deon Anderson returned to Dallas to have his knee examined. He won't make the trip to Oakland. That opens the door for Julius Crosslin and rookie Asaph Schwapp.
With the Cowboys employing more two tight end sets this season, the fullback position will be used even less. Anderson holds the edge to keep the job because of his special teams ability.
Other injured players who will not make the trip to Oakland include running back Alonzo Coleman (knee), linebacker Steve Octavien (groin) and cornerback Michael Hawkins (knee).