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Cowboys' health played big part of success

IRVING, Texas -- A good part of the Dallas Cowboys’ success in 2014 had to do with health.

It’s always a relative term, but the Cowboys were healthy in 2014. Thirty-two players played in all 16 regular-season games. Orlando Scandrick missed two because of a suspension and was healthy for his 14 games.

In 2013, the Cowboys had just 21 players play in all 16 games.

Tony Romo missed one game in 2014 with two transverse process fractures. Tyrone Crawford missed one game with a sprained knee. Terrell McClain missed three games with an ankle injury. Jeff Heath missed two with a broken thumb. Henry Melton’s season ended after the 16th game because of a bone bruise on his knee.

In years past, the Cowboys struggled with soft-tissue injuries, like Miles Austin’s chronic hamstring issues. In 2014, Justin Durant (two), Bruce Carter (three), Rolando McClain (one) and Ronald Leary (one) missed games with groin injuries. Dekoda Watson missed five games with a hamstring injury but did not sign with the Cowboys until November. Josh Brent missed five games with a calf injury but that was after a two-year layoff.

To attempt to curb the soft-tissue problems, the Cowboys changed their pre-practice workouts, going with what coach Jason Garrett called a dynamic warmup. Maybe some of it was just luck, but they fared much better in that department.

The Cowboys had 10 players end the year on injured reserve, which is two more than last year but only four could be called significant contributors: Sean Lee (knee), Morris Claiborne (knee), Durant (elbow) and Melton (knee). Jack Crawford was working his way toward that tag when his season ended because of a thumb injury. Three players from the practice squad were placed on injured reserve during the course of the season.

When the Cowboys had a number of players miss games because of injuries in previous years, the work of strength and conditioning coach Mike Woicik and his staff, as well as the work done by the athletic training staff, was questioned.

Clearly the Cowboys found a solution to the issue in 2014.