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Cowboys’ Lawrence had offseason back surgery

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  • Todd ArcherESPN Staff Writer

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    • Covered NFL since 1997, Cowboys since 2003
    • Previously covered Bengals and Dolphins
    • Lives in Dallas area with his wife and two children

OXNARD, Calif. — Dallas Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence will open training camp on the physically unable to perform list because of offseason back surgery, the third of his career.

“It’s more of a cleanup, so there’s no high concern,” coach Mike McCarthy said before the Cowboys’ first training camp practice. “He looks great. It’s probably more us than him as far as the timeline of him coming back.”

Lawrence did not participate in the organized team activities or minicamp, but the surgery was not disclosed until Thursday. Lawrence had back surgeries in 2016 and ’17 that helped correct an issue that first appeared in 2015. He had a career-high 14.5 sacks in 2017 and followed that up with 10.5 sacks the next season before signing a five-year, $105 million contract extension in 2019.

Lawrence had 6.5 sacks last season.

Kicker Greg Zuerlein, 33, will also open camp on the PUP list due to offseason back surgery, forcing punter Hunter Niswander to handle the kicking duties full time as Zuerlein rehabs. Zuerlein, who is in the second year of a three-year contract with the Cowboys, made 34 of 41 field goal attempts last season.

“Just things we’re being smart about,” McCarthy said.

Wide receiver Amari Cooper, who had offseason ankle surgery, will also open on the PUP list, but the expectation is that he will be practicing sooner rather than later. He had his surgery not long after the 2020 season ended but did not take part in any on-field work during the offseason program.

“He has a history there,” McCarthy said. “He looks great. He’s in great shape, so this is the time of year to be smart.”

Defensive tackle Trysten Hill and offensive tackle Mitch Hyatt are expected to need more time for rehab as they return from serious knee injuries. Rookie defensive end Chauncey Golston tweaked his hamstring during Wednesday’s conditioning test, which led to him being placed on the PUP list. Rookie receiver T.J. Vasher (knee) was placed on the non-football injury list.