IRVING, Texas – Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones confirmed Friday on 105.3 FM The Fan that rookie safety J.J. Wilcox will be a starter for the first time this weekend.
Jones simply stated, "Yes," when posed the question on whether or not he'll start, and he actually thought the rookie would have started sooner if not for the tragedy that forced him to leave camp when his mother passed away.
"I think he's played much better than we thought," Jones said. "Believe it or not, I think at one point we were really getting comfortable with moving him on up even before the season started, then he had the terrible misfortune of losing his mother and had to leave camp and missed quite a bit and of course put that on hold for all the right reasons."
Jones touched on a number of other subjects as well, further emphasizing how the running game needs to get better. He said the mix doesn't need to be an exact split between run and pass, but it has to be closer.
He also said Tony Romo has a hand in that and that the quarterback would take some of the blame on not running enough if asked. Jones said it's natural for a quarterback to think late in the game it's better to throw than to run, but Romo needs to keep in mind when he's making checks at the line that running the ball is essential.
A player that can potentially help out in the running game is veteran guard Brian Waters. Jones said Waters will play more this week than last week, and a lot of that will depend on how he feels during the week and during the game.
But the main note to take from Jones' interview was that Wilcox should be seeing more of the field this weekend, after coming back from tragic circumstances and building on a productive offseason and preseason.
"We certainly respect the way he's handled that," Jones said. "He's back working hard at it, and I think he'll bring a little juice to our defense. I think he can really help us. It doesn't mean Will (Allen) won't play, but (Wilcox) will certainly get a lot more time."
Murray Dismisses Frustrations
"Who says I'm frustrated?"
That was a response running back DeMarco Murray had on Friday when asked about his frustration level after a 25-yard rushing effort against the Chiefs last week. So far, in a season that was supposed to bring a greater emphasis to running the ball, Murray has 32 attempts for 111 yards (3.5 yard average) and no touchdowns. His longest rush from scrimmage is only 13 yards.
Still, Murray said he's not worried about outside perceptions that
"I'm not frustrated," Murray said. "We're first in our division. We're doing fine. We've got a team getting better, but I'm definitely not frustrated."
Murray faces the Rams on Sunday, two years removed from a record-setting day against St. Louis during his rookie season. He rushed for 253 yards against the Rams, breaking Emmitt Smith's single-game record set in 1993.
- Nick Eatman
Pleased With Player/Coach
With a lot of talk about Tony Romo perhaps changing plays at the line of scrimmage, owner Jerry Jones commented about his quarterback, who was actually given more responsibilities this year when it comes to game-planning and running the offense.
"I'm really pleased with how he's evolved," Jerry Jones said of Romo. "He spends all day there with coaches. There's no question, throughout the offseason, as well as now in the season, he's made a bigger time commitment. He's got all this experience, he's got great idea. We want to use that and we can use that. I'm really pleased with how everyone is working as a team." [embedded_ad]
When asked the percentage of health of his quarterback, Jones quickly said "100" and added, "I don't know that any players feels good after the first game but he's in good shape."
Romo took a hit on his ribs against the Giants on Sept. 8 and needed a pain-injection shot before last week's game in Kansas City. The quarterback said he plans on taking another shot this week.
High & Tight
Running back Lance Dunbar has touched the ball twice this season – and has lost one fumble. In his last preseason game, he also lost a key fumble in the Cardinals game after a nice catch-and-run in the open field.
He knows all eyes will be on him when it comes to ball protection, but the second-year back said he's not thinking about it.
"You can't worry about it because if you do, you'll be focused on the wrong things," Dunbar said. "I know to keep the ball high and tight and not let it get stripped. But when you start worrying about it and thinking too much, you won't be paying attention to the other things on the field. But I'm going to do a better job with it for sure."
- Nick Eatman