Melton shows flashes; Garrett wants more

OXNARD, Calif. -- The Dallas Cowboys have seen glimpses of his talent during defensive tackle Henry Melton's first two full-contact practices, but he's far from Pro Bowl form.

That's to be expected from a player coming off a torn ACL, which Melton suffered in September of last season with the Chicago Bears. But the coaches aren't making any excuses for Melton.

In fact, head coach Jason Garrett made a point to publicly challenge Melton during Tuesday afternoon's press conference, noting that he'd been dominated by center Travis Frederick in a pass-rush drill Sunday.

"I think he is getting his feet underneath him, getting stronger, and as much as anything else when you've had an injury like this, it's the confidence to be able to do naturally what you have done your whole life," Garrett said. "He's getting to that point. We had a good 1-on-1 pass rush between Travis Frederick and him the other day and Travis won handily. I think knowing what I know about Henry Melton from afar, he is going to respond the right way."

The Cowboys are encouraged by Melton's progress in his return from the knee injury. There have been flashes of the quickness and explosiveness that helped Melton, who started his college career at Texas as a tailback, earn a Pro Bowl bid while playing for Cowboys defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli in 2012.

Garrett said Melton looks good in non-contact individual drills but must work on his "contact balance," which is to be expected for a player coming off a major knee injury.

"It feels good," Melton said. "I was testing it out obviously the first day. I haven't been in pads since late September last year. It was good to kick the rust off. I've got a long way to go, but we're just going to keep working."