Oxnard, Calif. – The Dallas Cowboys open training camp Sunday morning, and the team reported for physicals and meetings on Saturday. Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones and head coach Jason Garrett spoke briefly with the media to formally open training camp.
Here are some notes from the media session:
"There's been a lot of talk this offseason by our organization – but now it's time to get down to business," was how Jerry Jones elected to open the press conference. "The facts are, it's just time to get going."
- Jones said he feels good about the players the team has in place to fit Monte Kiffin's 4-3 defense.
- He added that he likes the additions and tweaks the Cowboys have made to their offense.
- Jones was careful not to imply that Tony Romo hasn't been conscientious of his role on the team, but he reiterated his excitement that Romo will have an increased role in the offense.
- In another popular topic, Jones repeated his excitement to see the team's multitude of tight ends, and how the likes of James Hanna and Gavin Escobar could help Jason Witten excel in the offense.
Both Jones and Garrett then fielded questions from the media after a brief statement from Garrett regarding the opening of training camp.
- "We've really looked at every aspect of the past three years and learned from them … if you look at some of the things we've done, not the least of which is what we're paying Romo, and what we've done with Spencer … we're looking at right now," said Jones in regard to the Cowboys' task of overcoming recent disappointments.
- Jones said he was watching highlights of the Cowboys' Thanksgiving loss to Washington right before he took to the podium for the media session.
- "That feeling and aura of anticipation – that hasn't changed at all … It's been a little like waiting on pins and needles for this day to get here, to get this camp going," said Jones about the changes from camps past.
- "Right now we are better than that," said Jones, comparing today's Cowboys to the team that finished the 2012 season. He said the main reason for that is the overall improvement in health from last year's banged-up squad. But Jones added he feels better about the likes of Barry Church and Morris Claiborne, and he feels the team's depth at linebacker and tight end is improved.
- "It's very comforting to have Jason as our head coach, because he obviously knows (quarterback) and other positions as well as his own name," said Jones.
- Asked about his step back away from playcalling, Garrett said it "allows me to take a step back and see it from a different viewpoint." Garrett said the mechanics of having offensive coordinator Bill Callahan actually call plays worked well for the coaching staff in the spring.
- "We are what we are up to this point, but at some point you have to let the past go whether it's been great, good, mediocre or not so great … It's Day One of training camp and we're excited about this opportunity and this 2013 football team," said Garrett.
- Garrett said he anticipates the team to be mostly healthy, with the exception of long snapper L.P. Ladouceur and guards Nate Livings and Ron Leary. Garrett said Ladouceur and Leary have minor calf injuries, while Livings' injury is his foot.
- "We don't think these are serious thing," said Garrett of the injuries. "Those are the only guys at the outset we don't think will be available to us right at the start. "
- Garrett added he doesn't expect any of the three to miss much time.
- Garrett said the decision to sign Tony Romo to his $100 million contract was about "We want more."
- "His job is to play quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys – it's not an easy job," Garrett said of the pressure on Romo. "We feel like his involvement (with the offense) will enable him to do that job better.
- Garrett said the Cowboys expect to use first round draft pick Travis Frederick primarily at center, but the team will look into giving the rookie some opportunities at a guard position.
- Jones said the NFL is "closer than ever" to having a pro football franchise back in Los Angeles. Jones said there are a lot of people within and outside of the league who would like to see it happen, including himself.
- "I don't just say that wishing," he said. "I say that technically, because I'm aware of some things going on in the league that make sense."
- "We just have to run the ball better … We have to run it better, we have to run it more," said Garrett of the Cowboys' woeful 2012 rushing attack. Garrett said that a good running game has an enormous impact on not just the passing game, but defensive performance.
- "We're very excited about Dez – really in all parts of his life, and in football," said Garrett of the Cowboys' star receiver. "He loves to practice, he loves to play, he loves to get himself ready. As much as anything he's been better in his habit standpoint – in his life and as a football player. As a coach you preach that and preach that, and it's great to see if pay off."
- Addressing the injury rash in 2012, Garrett said he was proud of the way the team was able to step up and still compete for the division. "It's hard to say 'There's something we could have done about that,' – it's just the nature of the league." Though Garrett did add that the Cowboys have looked into their strength and conditioning programs and their nutrition program, and hopefully it will pay off in the future.
- Garrett said Romo and coaching staff will be monitoring and communicating about the quarterback's "pitch count," so to speak. Garrett said Romo has been throwing with regularity in recent weeks, but the Cowboys don't want him to overdo it. [embedded_ad]
- Jones said the Cowboys have to take advantage of Romo's skillset, not to mention his experience working within Garrett's offense for six years. "When (Garrett) got here, Romo had never had the same guy two years in a row."
- Jones said it has been very impressive seeing Garrett's performance during a disappointing stretch of play for the Cowboys. "If you're in close here you see how Jason is responding to, obviously unsatisfactory times. I can tell you first hand, that's impressive. So I like that, as far as looking ahead at the future."
- Jones used the opportunity to make a comment about Garrett's job security : "I look to the future with Jason, and not just through his contract that we're sitting here with right now – I think he's got a couple of years left on his contract. That's not a thought. It is not what's implied when you say 'It's an Armageddon year for (Garrett).' It is not that with me."