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Source: Cowboys Plan to Keep Malik Hooker on Roster

Jerry on Hooker: “He's an extraordinary player. Smart as a whip. He's what you want back there."

ARLINGTON - Safety Malik Hooker - a veteran newcomer who Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has openly campaigned for to be elevated to the first team - on Friday was activated from the NFL Reserve/COVID-19 list, making him eligible to return to practice … and maybe to fulfill Jones’ vision.

But along with the elevation has come speculation. Is he a really a potential starter? If so, why do the Cowboys plan on risking him in Sunday's NFL preseason finale here at AT&T Stadium against the Jacksonville Jaguars? Or, is he fighting for a roster spot, and must therefore play his way up? Or is there some practice-squad/roster-building trickery about to unfold?

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The truth, a team source tells us, is simple: The Cowboys enter today with Hooker slated to make the 53-man roster. And he is playing today as a "ramp-up'' due to the fact that before last week's preseason appearance against Houston, it'd been almost a year since he played football due to injury.

Hooker went on the Reserve/COVID-19 list early in the week, joining a group that eventually included defensive coordinator Dan Quinn and an assortment of players. 

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Some remain on the list. Hooker, however, is ready to go.

Dallas’ starting safeties all summer have been Donovan Wilson and Damontae Kazee. But Jones last week told 105.3 The Fan that Hooker, the former oft-injured Colts star signed at the start of camp as a street free agent, ‘"He's an extraordinary player. Smart as a whip. He's what you want back there."

Wilson is likely locked in as the starter at strong safety; Hooker and Kazee are both naturally free safeties. Kazee is a playmaker and a favorite of Quinn, who helped bring the former sixth-round defensive back over from Atlanta. Both Kazee and Hooker are coming off season-ending Achilles injuries, but what the former Ohio State first-rounder Hooker has is pedigree …

And maybe what he also has is the backing of the Dallas Cowboys owner, a backing that is now seemingly supported by the rest of the decision-makers in the building.

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