INDIANAPOLIS - Just about every NFL head coach spoke here at the scouting combine in the last two days. Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett was the last to speak, but held court for several minutes, talking to both national and local media about a variety of topics.
Here are some of the highlights coming out of Garrett's media session on Friday:
- When asked if he expects defensive tackle Jay Ratliff to play with the Cowboys in 2013, Garrett basically cut off the reporter and said "Absolutely." When asked again about Ratliff's frustrating 2012 season that included 10 games missed because of injury, a locker-room altercation with Jerry Jones and then an DWI arrest earlier this month, Garrett reiterated his stance and said if Ratliff can get healthy, he expects him to be formidable in the 4-3 defense. For more on the story, click here.
- While it has been assumed linebacker Sean Lee will be the middle linebacker in the 4-3 defense, Garrett said Bruce Carter might get the chance to play inside and Lee could be the WILL linebacker on the outside. But Garrett said Lee will "get the first crack" at playing in the middle.
- When asked if Miles Austin would also "absolutely" be back in 2013, Garrett said it will come down to business decisions, but later added the Cowboys' only issue with Austin is his health. Garrett said Austin was not 100 percent in 2012 and saw a true burst from Austin only twice all of last year. For more, click here. Click here to read more on the story.
- Garrett will never give away his draft strategy but it doesn't sound like there is a strong need to draft a quarterback in 2013. He called Romo a "young" quarterback and referred to his lack of playing time early in his career. That doesn't mean they won't evaluate all of the quarterbacks but it appears the Cowboys could get through the draft without taking a passer.
- Safety Barry Church missed 14 games last year with a torn Achilles but not only did the Cowboys sign him to an extension in the middle of the season, but it appears Church is moving along nicely in his rehab. Garrett said Church is "ahead of schedule," which means he should be able to participate in some offseason work and be ready for training camp in late July.
- There were a few questions regarding Chip Kelly's fast-paced offense in Philadelphia. Garrett said the Cowboys aren't viewing Kelly as a first-year coach in the NFL but more like "a really good coach" who has been very successful.
- DeMarcus Ware, who is recovering from shoulder surgery he had in January, is not expected to undergo elbow surgery as well. At one point after the season, Ware said he expected to have both procedures done but has opted against that second surgery for now. Garrett said Friday that Ware "seems like he's getting better and better."
- With the possibility Doug Free could be released to save $7 million on this year's cap, Garrett stressed how impressed the Cowboys were with Jermey Parnell's progression and how he handled rotating with Free late last season. Garrett did add Free also played better when he was splitting time but overall, the head coach seemed rather comfortable with Parnell's ability to win the starting job.