Cowboys Leaders Step To the Front

week, but that was only last week. Now we have to be consistent. We haven't been consistent in the past. So let's take this to New York and let's do it again."

The attitude carried over to the offensive line. It would be a betrayal of confidence to tell you who, but a couple of Cowboys' linemen felt before last week's game there just hadn't been enough of that nasty attitude brought to the field, so they decided there needed to be some, uh, play through the whistles, and maybe a rumble or two. And there was.

The leadership on the team comes from different places. Jason Witten and Tony Romo and Andre Gurode are some of the vocal ones in the offensive room. On defense, anyone who knows will tell you Ken Hamlin is a strong leader, and James. Everyone listens when Greg Ellis speaks up.

But Thomas brings something a little different. He has that attitude, that zest for the game. He has skins on other walls. And because it was other walls, Thomas has tried to keep a low profile. For a great deal of training camp he tried to avoid interviews, until, in his words, he had "done something." Once the season began, he still wanted to be a teammate, nothing more or less. New guy. Didn't want to step on toes, stand up and try to command a room that wasn't his.

That ship may not have sailed, but it's out of dry-dock. None less than check-signer Jerry Jones said this week, "We're way past the point here where Zach is new to this deal. He's part of all this now."

Thomas still doesn't want to take over the locker room, even if he could. His deference to Hamlin and Ellis and James and Newman and DeMarcus Ware is real.

"When you've got so many leaders on this defense, you can't buy into no one stepping up. You've got a Bradie James, DeMarcus Ware, Greg Ellis, and normally I don't have to say much. But last week, yeah, I had something I wanted to say. I got it off my chest, and that's all. I'm getting the respect of the other players, but you have to back it up on the field. That's what I try to do."

And now they all have to do it again. The injured players still won't be there against the Giants. Not many will give Dallas a serious chance to win so they will have to provide it themselves, and Thomas hopes the week goes like last week on the practice field.

"Like I said, you win it during the week. (Last) week the practice tempo was great. I got a little frustrated with our offense because they were really coming off the ball. It was like a game last Wednesday and Thursday. But we need that. They don't need to brother-in-law you or be soft on you. We need to not get complacent."

Complacent will get you buried next to Jimmy Hoffa in New Jersey. The trick now is to see if this team can play with the same intensity as last week.

If they do that eight more times, they'll be fine.

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