The injury bug ravaged the Dallas Cowboys last season, and it’s already begun moving on the 2021 outfit.
Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News reports Cowboys linebacker Francis Bernard is “done for today” after sustaining a hamstring injury during the opening hour of Thursday’s inaugural training camp practice.
“Disappointing development for one of top undrafted rookies in team’s 2020 class,” Gehlken said.
Nick Eatman of the official Cowboys website added: “LB Francis Bernard has already suffered a setback. Just a few minutes into camp, he went into the trainers tent and has now walked off into the locker room.”
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Background on Francis
You may recall the Utah product’s name from last summer when he consistently “turned heads” in training camp, notching two interceptions across four practices — including a pick-six of starting quarterback Dak Prescott. His standout playmaking ability prompted praise from coaches and teammates alike.
“I think he’s really taken off,” linebacker Leighton Vander Esch said last September, via Sports Illustrated. “He’s a smart kid. He plays fast and obviously he’s made plays. He’s gotten an interception in the last two padded practices so I think he’s making a name for himself. And I think he’s gonna be awesome for our room. Pumped to have him with us. Like I said, he’s smart. He plays fast. He’s instinctual. He’s going to be huge on special teams for us and when he finds his time on the field, he’s going to do just fine.”
Bernard was released at final cuts, a move panned by Cowboys fans, and later re-signed to the practice squad. Dallas promoted him to the active roster in October, though he never appeared in a regular-season game.
Hamstring ailments tend to linger and are easily aggravated. Even if Francis avoided serious injury, any missed time would further incline the hill he must climb to crack the final 2021 roster. The Cowboys replenished its LB corps this offseason, signing Keanu Neal and drafting Micah Parsons and Jabril Cox to pair with veteran incumbents Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith.
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6 Players Moved to PUP
In other injury news, the Cowboys placed a half-dozen players on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list to open camp: wide receiver Amari Cooper (ankle), defensive linemen DeMarcus Lawrence (back), Trysten Hill (knee) and Chauncey Golston (hamstring), kicker Greg Zuerlein (back), and offensive tackle Mitch Hyatt (knee).
The biggest name of the bunch, Cooper underwent ankle surgery in January and reportedly suffered irritation in June. His absence is expected to be short-lived, and his return well before Dallas takes on Tampa Bay in the season opener.
“I’m not concerned. …When you see him, he’s in great shape.” Better than he was even last year,” head coach Mike McCarthy said of Cooper, via the Dallas Morning News.
Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL