Nick Eatman is the author of the recently published ****If These Walls Could Talk: Dallas Cowboys***, a collection of stories from the Cowboys' locker room, sideline and press box, with a foreword written by Darren Woodson.*
IRVING, Texas - Earlier this week, wide receiver Terrance Williams was rather blunt and honest about stepping up his game.
Even without Dez Bryant and Tony Romo in the lineup, Williams knows the Cowboys' offense must live up to a higher standard. The receiver even went so far as to say he needs to be more "quarterback friendly" for backup quarterback Brandon Weeden.
One person who knows exactly what Weeden is experiencing is head coach Jason Garrett, who had a similar situation in 1998 when he backed up Troy Aikman for a six-week period when the starting quarterback also had a broken collarbone.
Garrett has confidence in his receivers, starting with Williams but also including the other outside guys, Devin Street and Brice Butler, even though none of those three had a single reception last week against the Falcons.
So when Garrett hears the term "quarterback friendly," it has a pretty simple meaning to him.
"First and foremost, it means get open. Get the quarterback a place to throw the ball," Garrett said. "Other times, it means your body language. Tell the quarterback that you are open and that you want the ball right now. The really good players are able to do that. Think about in a zone when a guy settles down and says, 'Throw me the ball.' Witten is a master at that. Beasley is a master at that. Terrance is very good at it."
Garrett says Williams has proven to be a good target when plays break down and he's able to keep his route alive and find an opening in the defense.
"I've seen a lot of that from Terrance when Tony is on the move. Terrance has made a lot of plays for us when Tony is out of the pocket, moving around. Terrance is very quarterback friendly," Garrett said. "Terrance is one of those guys who is very critical of himself. He works very hard. He wants to do everything at a high level. When you describe him as a player you would say he is a quarterback friendly guy. So he can be better at that, but he does that already."
At least Williams has been a productive player for this team in the last three seasons. But the jury remains out on both Street and Butler, who just arrived two weeks ago after a trade with the Raiders.
"He's done a nice job. He's a smart guy," Garrett said of Butler. "He doesn't have a background with us, but you can tell he has a background in pass offense. He's a talented guy and working hard in practice. He's been active, but hasn't gotten many opportunity in games at this point. But he's doing a lot of good things."
As for Street, who missed about three weeks of training camp action with a foot injury, Garrett said he's been working himself back into the mix, but feels like the injury is behind him.