September 19, 2014

IRVING, Texas (AP) The Dallas Cowboys will likely be without middle linebacker and leading tackler Rolando McClain for Sunday's game at St. Louis.

McClain hasn't practiced since coming out of last week's game at Tennessee with a groin injury. He was listed as doubtful for the Rams when Dallas (1-1) released its practice report Friday.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said on a weekly radio appearance Friday that McClain, who has 22 tackles, wants to play and thinks he might play. But Jones also called the linebacker ''doubtful.''

When talking to reporters Friday, even McClain sounded unsure of his status.

''I don't know. I've been able to do what they've asked me to do,'' McClain said. ''I'm getting better. I'll do whatever they ask me to do.''

Linebacker Justin Durant will miss his second game in a row with a groin injury.

Receiver Dez Bryant was listed as questionable after limited participation in practice for the second day in a row. He hurt his shoulder against the Titans last week.

Coach Jason Garrett said he believes in players being at practice in some way to determine if they can play in the game.

At the same time, the coach left open at least a slight possibility of McClain being able to play Sunday.

''We don't have these hard and fast rules. He's in the meetings and he's participating in the meetings. So mentally and emotionally he's getting himself ready to play,'' Garrett said. ''We'll see what he's physically able to do.''

If McClain doesn't play, his most likely replacement would be Anthony Hitchens, the fourth-round draft pick who would slide over from weakside linebacker. Hitchens started against the Titans last week, but was in for only eight defensive plays.

Sean Lee would have been the starting middle linebacker this season, but he suffered a knee injury during the first offseason workout. Lee is on injured reserve along with Devonte Holloman, who the Cowboys said in training camp has a career-ending neck injury related to a spinal problem that kept him out almost half of his rookie season a year ago.

Hitchens said he didn't know how much he would play Sunday.

''The more you know, the more comfortable you play, so I'm just trying to learn as much as I can right now,'' Hitchens said. ''(McClain) is a good football player. Everyone knows that. The next guy in better step up and carry the load.''

Keith Smith, a linebacker on the practice squad, took part in practice Friday, and Garrett said it could be necessary to activate him for Sunday's game.

''We've been working some different combinations as the week has gone on,'' Garrett said.

Notes: CB Orlando Scandrick will play at least in nickel formations, according to defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli. Scandrick was reinstated this week after two games of a four-game suspension because of approved changes in the NFL's collective bargaining agreement on the drug policy. ... RB Joseph Randle (concussion) returned to practice. ... DE Anthony Spencer (knee surgery) had a planned day off after limited participation Wednesday and Thursday, and is out again Sunday.

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

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