Cowboys' hopes still high for Matt Johnson

IRVING, Texas -- Safety Matt Johnson has practiced less than 10 times since the Cowboys selected him in the fourth round out of Eastern Washington because of NFL rules regarding rookies and school classes and also because of hamstring and back injuries.

The hope is that Johnson can return to practice soon -- perhaps after the bye. The Cowboys have elected to keep him on the roster despite being thin at safety.

“For the limited practice he’s had, he demonstrated those things (that made the Cowboys draft him), and it didn’t seem too big for him,” coach Jason Garrett said. “He seemed to pick things up pretty well. We felt like it’s a long season and over the course of 16 weeks, a lot of things happen, lot of different injuries happen and you’ve got to be able to absorb some things. We felt confident in what we’d seen so far and hopefully we can get him back and get him going.”

Johnson has not practiced since injuring his hamstring Aug. 25 against St. Louis and aggravated his back while lifting weights. The team has opted not to put him on injured reserve with the ability to recall him even with injuries to Gerald Sensabaugh and Barry Church. The Cowboys also cut backup safety Mana Silva this week to make room for punter Brian Moorman.

“Certainly on special teams we feel he can adjust to a role there and hopefully pick things up on defense for us and have a role there in some capacity as a backup player or spot player in a given situation,” Garrett said.