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Cowboys finding challenge just getting through practice

OXNARD, Calif. -- The list of injured Dallas Cowboys continues to grow.

As of Tuesday, it was 25 players long. Here is the rundown:

Cole Beasley (Achilles), Dez Bryant (hamstring), Antwan Goodley (hamstring), Gus Johnson (shoulder), James Hanna (knee), Gavin Escobar (concussion), Ronald Leary (back), Tyron Smith (biceps), Doug Free (foot), Zack Martin (stinger), Ken Boatright (neck, back), Nick Hayden (ribs), Terrell McClain (knee), Tyrone Crawford (back), Sean Lee (knee), Anthony Hitchens (foot), Byron Jones (shoulder), Corey White (unknown), Barry Church (ribs), Brandon Carr (hand), Orlando Scandrick (knee), Ken Bishop (unknown).

Then there are the players on the physically unable to perform and non-football injury lists: Rolando McClain (knee), Chaz Green (hip) and Mark Nzeocha (knee).

Some players are at various points in their recovery. Some could be back today. Others could need a week or more.

Free has taken some team snaps in the past three practices after resting his surgically-repaired foot. Scandrick was in pads for the first time since Aug. 6 on Tuesday but just worked on the side. Bryant was in full pads and was begging for a snap but the hope is he can return to practice next week. The same goes for Tyron Smith.

The numbers of injuries affect practices in terms of quality and quantity. Because of the injuries, the number of snaps was cut back.

"You cross your fingers every day you walk out here in these training camps," executive vice president Stephen Jones said. "...We obviously have a big injury list right now. I think it's over half our team has something they're getting treated right now. We have to continue to monitor it, manage it and do the best we can. As you we all know, a lot of these injuries out here, people missing practice, we are being conservative in terms of not letting them get out here and really let the injury escalate."

The injuries have made the jobs of Jones and senior director college/pro personnel Will McClay challenging. With 90 players in 32 camps, there aren't enough players available.

Since camp started, the Cowboys have added running backs Ben Malena and Michael Hill, wide receiver David Porter, offensive linemen Cody Clay, tight end Brandon Barden, linebackers Keith Smith, Jonathan Brown and Ka'Lial Glaud and cornerback Brandon Smith.

On Wednesday, the Cowboys had players in for workouts on a day off, including a few defensive linemen. The ultimate goal is to find players to possibly help during the season, but the immediate goal is find players to get through practice.

"Everybody's got their nicks and bumps and bruises and you have 90 players on the roster and to find someone to replace that player that you've studied as much and have a new guy come in, it's a very difficult deal," McClay said. "But I think our guys do a good job. We've got lists of players that are not anywhere. We've got a list of players that have been somewhere and we've got their college reports. So we try to find a way to match it. Some positions are harder than others. I mean offensive line? Are you kidding me? Thirty-two teams and 90 players, they've got 15, 16 linemen; they don't make them in college football, so it's hard to find them now."

The Cowboys' No. 1 goal of training camp is keeping players healthy. Their eyes are not on Sunday's game against the San Francisco 49ers. It's the Sept. 13 regular-season opener against the New York Giants.

But in order to get ready for that game, practice is critical. Before the brawls ended the practices against the Rams, injuries curtailed the number of snaps per practice period.

"This is an important time for us as we're building our team," Jones said. "We all know that this next 10 days leading up and through that third preseason game are going to be a big, big deal in terms of how we get this team prepared for the season. Maybe things [with injuries] will slow back down a little bit, but these next 10 days will be tough. This is part of it. This is when you build your football team and hopefully we'll do a good job doing it."