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DeMarcus Lawrence targeting season opener for his return

Ezekiel Elliott shouldn't worry about any deadlines concerning accumulating years toward free agency as his focus should be on maximizing his value now while it's high.

DeMarcus Lawrence delayed shoulder surgery until after he signed a five-year, $105 million deal in April. So he started training camp on the physically unable to perform list and isn’t expected to practice while the Cowboys are in California.

“Well, ain’t in no rush. What are you rushing for?” Lawrence said.

Indeed, the target date for Lawrence’s return is Sept. 8 when the Cowboys play the Giants in the season opener.

“I have a date in my mind when I’m going to be ready, and that’s the season opener,” Lawrence said. “I’m not saying I’m going to overload my workload for the season opener or what they want to do with me or have me off the PUP list by the season opener, but hopefully be ready by the season opener.”

The two-time Pro Bowler said his conditioning is fine, but he still is working on getting back his strength. He admits, though, that it’s “really hard to play D-line when you’re not in the trenches.”

But Lawrence knows patience, having undergone back surgery more than once.

“It’s easier to be patient when you are still in it,” Lawrence said. “It would be different if I had to stay at home or not be around the guys. That is totally different. I am here. I can focus in the classroom. I can study with them. I can be intuned to the game.”

Lawrence, 27, had 14.5 sacks in 2017 and 10.5 last season. He recently said he hoped to break Michael Strahan’s single-season sacks record before Von Miller, who also has openly targeted Strahan’s 22.5 sacks in 2001.

“My expectations are always high,” Lawrence said. “This ain’t my first rodeo. This is year six. I understand the game. I understand protections. Sometimes they are going to need an extra guy to help block me. I am not out there by myself. I have teammates. I have [Robert] Quinn rushing up field. I have Maliek [Collins]. I have Ty [Crawford]. Sean [Lee] might come sometimes. You never know who you might get hit by. It’s all about staying in the game plan; staying focused on my craft; and being ready when the time presents itself.”