IRVING, Texas --Bradie James knows what time it is.
For six years, he has been the Cowboys' leading tackler. For seven games, he has split time with fellow veteran Keith Brooking while Sean Lee assumed a full-time role in the base defense.
At age 30 and in the last year of his contract, James understands this could be his last year in Dallas.
"The writing is on the wall," he said Wednesday. "As soon as that happens, after the first game, the second game, the writing is on the wall.
"I'm a big boy, a grown man with a family. I know what time it is. I've been around; I've seen it. That's the situation."
But with Lee quite possibly missing Sunday's game with a dislocated wrist, James also knows when it's time to step in and help.
He waited his turn his first two seasons in the league (2003 and 2004) behind Dexter Coakley, then emerged as a captain on defense. Now a nine-year vet, this might be his last shot at a big season with the franchise that drafted him.
Whichever role he's in, so be it. That has always been his attitude. At the start of the season, he and Brooking each volunteered to help out on special teams.
"My biggest thing is, we've been here long enough, man. I just want to win," James said. "Nobody cares about if I continue to lead the team in tackles, this and that. It doesn't even matter anymore. What matters is our legacy.
"We've been here long enough to where we understand that window is closing, so we've got to win. The position that we're in right now, our backs are against the wall. It doesn't matter if they get somebody off the street. If they can out there and play and my job is go out there to play with them and help us win, that's what I'm going to do."