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When the Cowboys huddle together before games, Brooking is in the middle leading with the fiery motivation.

“I’ve been around other linebackers, every year seems like we had a new one. I didn’t know how the ego would be, guys would say the right things in front of the cameras but it’d be different when we get in the locker room,” James said.

He found out that wasn’t the case with Brooking.

The 34-year-old Brooking last season started all but one game, when the Cowboys opened against Philadelphia in nickel package. Brooking still had 13 tackles in that game.

After his left knee started bothering him during some offseason conditioning, Brooking had arthroscopic surgery. He missed a month of voluntary workouts and Phillips has limited him to one practice a day during camp, though Brooking insists everything is all right _ and it certainly looks like it is when he is on the field.

Brooking was back for the afternoon session Thursday after not participating in the morning workout without pads. It was the last set of two-a-days in the Alamodome, where the Cowboys have a walkthrough Friday before their preseason opener in Canton, Ohio.

“Yeah, we give him a hard time all of the time because he only practices one time,” said James, who is going into his eighth NFL season is five years behind Brooking. “I think I’m supposed to really pay attention to that. If I’m fortunate enough to play that long, I need to be doing the same things he’s doing.”