FRISCO, Texas – Upon arriving at The Star Wednesday morning, decided Shots were going to start off being about the Cowboys tight end position, about how after watching Tuesday's practice here at Ford Center Jake Ferguson put on a darn good red zone show.
That this group of tight ends was going to adequately replace the departed Dalton Schultz.
But no, the events of the day would trump all that. Push the pause button on that one.
First, at the Cowboys 2023 Season Kickoff affair, a fine celebration by itself, not only surprising all of us, but also the emcee of the special event DeMarcus Ware, at the end of the one-hour presentation Cowboys owner Jerry Jones going off script to announce Ware, the recent-inductee into the Pro Football Hall of Fame is now also going into the Cowboys hallowed Ring of Honor this year.
Leaving Ware speechless.
But also leaving the Cowboys somewhat speechless is second-year defensive end Sam Williams, while stopped for speeding Sunday night, is arrested for possession of a controlled substance and unlawfully carrying a firearm.
Just knew when writing this past Friday that this had been a near perfect training camp was too good to be true. Well, it was.
Now then, Ware. His induction into the Ring of Honor always has been inevitable. Just a matter of when. Same for Jason Witten. Same for Jimmy Johnson. About time for Cornell Green. Same for Everson Walls. But you know Jerry, he loves continuing the conversation.
But at the end, even after surprising the by-invitation crowd at Ford Center, after a roughly 15-minute press conference afterward inside the Training Table at The Star, Jerry Jones hit a ringing chord about The Ring.
"By the way, I have done what Tex asked me to do," Jones said of his conversation with the late Cowboys president and GM Tex Schramm back when Jerry bought the team, "He said keep it very relevant to be in there, keep it important to be in there. Don't over number it and make sure that you're really satisfied that they made a major contribution to the franchise itself.
"Not just how great they were on the field, but to the franchise itself. So, I really take that to heart."
And Jerry is exactly right about that. Tex always wanted this Ring to be very exclusive, an utmost meaningful honor, not like some franchises where you go to stadiums for games, look at their equivalent of the Ring of Honor and ask yourself, who is that guy.
Not this Ring. Think about it. This is a franchise that has won five Super Bowls. At one time had 20 consecutive winning seasons. Won three Super Bowls in a four-year span. Got now 21 Pro Football Hall of Famers.
But now just 23 members in the franchise's Ring of Honor.
Quite an Honor.
· Sam, Sam: When first read the reported arrest of Sam Williams, booked on possession of a controlled substance and unlawfully carrying a firearm, my first reaction was, it's Texas, thought everybody had the right to carry a firearm. Ah but there is a catch, and Jones hit the point when saying, "There's some lesson to be learned there for everybody. He hit the wrong combination of things . . . when you add those two together, my attorney had to find that out. Something everybody should think about." The wrong combination being carrying a firearm while in possession of THC, which is a felony in itself in the state of Texas. Ouch. While Williams participated in practice Wednesday night, the Cowboys will allow the legal system to play out, but there always is the strong arm of the NFL to deal with. We'll see on this one.
· Second Line: So, we know the Cowboys starting offensive line. What they must figure out is the backups – center, guard and tackle. So, keep an eye on this come Saturday night against the Raiders in the last of three preseason games. When they were giving veteran starters like Tyron Smith and Zack Martin a break in recent practices, coming in at right guard this week has been undrafted rookie T.J. Bass, where Josh Ball had been replacing Martin during his holdout. And with Matt Waletzko suffering from a shoulder subluxation, just getting back into practice Wednesday working with the second team, and veteran Chuma Edoga out with a hyperextended knee causing a bone bruise, fifth-rounder Asim Richards has received first team snaps at left tackle. Keep an eye on this one, too.
· Deuuuuuce: Can mark this down. After what Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy has said this week about Deuce Vaughn, along with COO Stephen Jones and owner Jerry Jones, no matter he's just 5-foot-5, he is going to make this team. And for good reason. He has performed at a high level, not just scoring those touchdowns in each of the first two preseason games, but he's become a constant threat running the ball in practice. And from the sounds of things, sure doesn't seem as if it will be either Vaughn or KaVontae Turpin. After all, Turpin was a Pro Bowl returner his rookie season last year. Why not have both.
· Tony, Tony: Sure, there was some concern over Tony Pollard returning from his off-season surgery, whether he'd be ready for the start of the season. Well, judging from these past two weeks, not to worry. He sure looks explosive running the ball, and while typing this Wednesday night at practice, Pollard just exploded up the middle for a short yardage touchdown.
· Ringing His Bell: Never know when an opportunity will arise. Take Marquese Bell. He had predominately been getting practice snaps at safety, but once DeMarvion Overshown went down, he gets a call the next morning from defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, telling him be ready for some snaps at that big nickel linebacker spot. "I been playing both since I got here," Bell said. "Got to show my versatility." His is an amazing rise, signing on as a rookie free agent, probably hoping to just make the practice squad, then finds himself making the 53-man roster last year and playing in 13 games, mostly on special teams. Now here he is, trying to rotate into some safety/linebacker play. And when asked if he ever thinks back to where he once was and where he is now, Bell said, "Every day, every day. I'm tremendously blessed. The journey has been the best part." And it's still going.
· Nuts & Bolts: Tremendous downer for Overshown and John Stephens Jr., both out for the season tearing an ACL in Saturday's preseason game. Just as bad, both are on split contracts usually signed by rookie free agents or mid to late round draft choices, meaning landing on season-ending IR means their base salaries are just about cut in half . . . Worse part for the Cowboys, both were going to become core special teams players, likely leaving special teams coach John Fassel sick to his stomach over the losses there . . . As for Overshown, said they had not yet scheduled his surgery, and there he was in Tuesday's practice, on the side playing catch with tight ends coach Lunda Wells, and knowing Jerry Jones wants to hook him up with Michael Irvin, who tore his ACL six games into the 1989 season, yet recovered to become a Hall of Fame receiver. Gosh, a much better attitude than most of us would have, saying, "I got to bring the same energy to my rehab." . . .Just when rookie free agent wide receiver David Duren was starting to make a push, he appears to have torn his ACL in practice Wednesday night . . . Also working to the side was running back Malik Davis, having suffered a rib injury . . . And rookie kicker Brandon Aubrey nailed all his attempts Wednesday night until missing the final one, a tad left from 55 yards out. Good thing, though, the kick was way long enough.
Let's turn to DeMarcus Ware for the last word this week, surprised when Jerry Jones his presenter at the Hall of Fame induction ceremony and the guy who put the Gold Jacket on him the night before, announced to the audience at Ford Center the former Cowboys defensive end was going to be the next player heading into the Ring of Honor.
"That means so much to me," Ware said of Jones making that announcement, "because the guy who gave me that opportunity also told me about all the hard work and everything that enshrining takes helped get me to the point of the Hall of Fame situation. And then him saying you are also part of my hall of fame. It's like, yes, Canton was great, but this is my home, and my 'dad' that I played for, being honest with you, told me I did enough, which is one of the coolest things to say up here.
"That's my statement. Still a loss for words. There is nothing I can say, but I know now when I came here in 2005 and said, 'I want to etch my name in the Star,' and I told Jerry that arrogantly when he asked me where are your goals. Every single year, I said that, 'I want to etch my name in the stone of the Dallas Cowboys,' and I worked every single year . And when I left here, when I was released, it hurt, because I felt like my dad was sending me away from home.
"But guess what? I got to come back."
Right where he so richly deserves.