Three Cowboys knocked out of game early

SAN DIEGO -- Injuries have been a concern for the Dallas Cowboys in training camp, but only three players were forced from Thursday’s 27-7 loss to the San Diego Chargers in the preseason opener.

Rookie safety Ahmad Dixon suffered a concussion in the fourth quarter after making a team-high 11 tackles. Defensive end Dartwan Bush also suffered a concussion. Running back Ben Malena was on crutches after the game because of a quadriceps injury that will require an MRI on Friday.

The Cowboys are off on Friday and will return to practice on Saturday. Dixon and Bush will have to pass the protocol tests before they can return to practice. Dezmon Briscoe and Jakar Hamilton suffered concussions in Sunday’s practice and did not play Thursday.

The Cowboys did not play 27 players. Some because of injury (Morris Claiborne, Sterling Moore, Tyler Patmon, George Selvie). Some because of precaution (Tony, Romo, Barry Church, Henry Melton). Some because of status (Jason Witten, Dez Bryant, DeMarco Murray).

Church said he could have played but the coaches decided to rest him for the day. Melton was told a few days before the game he would not play. He said he has not had any problems with his knee after missing all but three games last season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament.

"It feels great," Melton said. "We’ve been growing our reps during training camp, so we’ll see how it does and see what (coach Jason Garrett) wants me to do next week. I’ll just listen to them."

Claiborne said he will return to practice on Saturday after battling a case of tendinitis. It is the third straight year he has missed the first preseason game with a knee injury.

"I feel fine," Claiborne said. "We’ll see Saturday, but I feel fine. I feel like I can pick up where I left off and continue to climb and continue to get better. That’s my goal: to get better each and every day. Every day I hit the practice field I want to be better than my last tape. That’s my goal. That’s my plan, so this Saturday is not going to be no different. I’m going with the same mindset going forward."