OXNARD, Calif. – Jerry Jones took the podium for the start of his 27th training camp as owner and general manager of the Dallas Cowboys, looking as enthusiastic as ever for his annual state-of-the-team address.
"I may be moving a little bit slower this training camp because of my hip surgery, but I am feeling good," he said.
If Jones feels Super about his football team this year, he's keeping it to himself.
But he clearly believes the Cowboys have a great opportunity in front of them following a 12-4 season and an offseason dedicated to balancing out last year's roster.
"Well, I think, as in last year and those recent years, I'm going to keep avoiding it (the term 'Super Bowl') this year," Jones said. "I think that we certainly have reason to be optimistic because frankly, we can look at the way our team evolved last year, we can look at some of the circumstances that individually, with players as well as with the team, as well as parts within the team, if we can see how that worked last year and gave us some success, it's not hard to project and say, 'If we could do that last year, maybe we can get some more of that this year and have that kind of success.'"
There's a shared sense of hope around 31 other NFL training camps this week. But after three straight 8-8 seasons from 2011-13, the Cowboys' 12-win season in 2014 offered tangible proof that this young roster can contend in the NFC.
"We're not having to sit here and talk to guys about how it was in 1990 or in 2002," Jones said. "These guys that saw what hard work and this type of situation will do."
Maybe it's the taste of the playoffs again. Maybe it's the team's influx of youth and new talent over the past several seasons. Or maybe it's just the overall chemistry and coaching within the group. But Jones sees "more freshness, more bright-eyed, rookie attitude in the makeup of this team" than 2010, the last time the Cowboys headed west for camp coming off a winning season.[embeddedad0]
"I'm not going to call it naïve," Jones said. "It's just an attitude of, 'Let's just get out here. Let's go to work. Good things can happen to us.' I think that has everything to do with our leadership, with our head coach. I think it has to do with leadership from some of our veterans."