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Senior Bowl Notes: Filling Vacancies, Draft Needs, More


MOBILE, Ala. – Two days' worth of questions haven't yielded many answers from Cowboys team officials, but at least some of those answers may be coming soon.

Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones, as well as coach Jason Garrett said Tuesday that they're still evaluating the team's coaching staff after a third-straight 8-8 season. The Cowboys have two coaching positions to fill, and they're still determining the makeup of their current staff – and Jones said there's no rush to finishing that process.

"As in any offseason, we're looking at how to visualize everybody involved and that's part of what we're working on," Jones said. "This time last year we were hiring coaches -- several coaches. But this is the time of the year that you look at it, but no, I don't have anything to report there."

However protective they might be of those answers, both Jones and Garrett agreed Tuesday that they intended to fill their assistant special teams and tight ends coaching positions soon. Carlos Polk appears to be the choice for the special teams unit, while

"No timeline, but that will be done sooner rather than later," Jones said. "This is the time with coaches moving around, so all that plays into it, but probably sooner than later."

Added Garrett: "The first order of business is to get these other guys who are out of contract all squared away. We're in the process of doing that over the next few days, and then we'll go from there."

Need To Know

The talk around the Cowboys this week has primarily been about coaching changes and the like, but the staff most of its time Monday and Tuesday watching Senior Bowl practices with the scouting department 

All of the Cowboys' personnel directors, including Senior Director of Football Administration Todd Williams, Assistant Director of Player Personnel Will McClay and Director of Scouting Tom Ciskowski were on hand to take in practice with Garrett and his coaching staff.

"It's an important week. It's our first exposure as coaches to these college players," Garrett said. "I spent a lot of time with Tom Ciskowski and the other guys in our personnel department who have seen these guys for a year or two years and have a real comfort level with them, and they educate us."

There are plenty of opinions about what the Cowboys need going into the 2014 NFL Draft – whether it's defensive line depth, new skill players or more defensive backs. Garrett said the object is to identify the right players without developing tunnel vision for a specific need.

"The biggest thing you try to do is get the whole landscape of things, and then you start thinking about your team very specifically and you start zeroing in a little bit," he said. "But it's really important, we feel, to make sure you try to draft for your team devoid of need as much as you can."

At the same time, Garrett said there's no denying the various points of needs for the Cowboys. But he added that it can't prevent  the staff from identifying talent across the board - -beginning at Senior Bowl practices.

"We all know the reality of it, you have some needs and you have to try to address those things, and oftentimes that might be a tiebreaker for you," Garrett said. "But we have to know the whole draft, we have to know all the positions and you have to try to find guys who can help your football team."

-- David Helman

Back To Quarterback

The immediate relief Tony Romo felt after back surgery wasn't a surprise to Garrett.

Garrett said he spoke to Romo and that the quarterback "feels really good," but he also said that's to be expected in the early weeks after that kind of surgery. 

"I think anybody who has that surgery will tell you the same thing. initially, they feel great because there's so much pressure back there on the nerves and whatever goes into that injury," Garrett said. "So they get immediate relief, and then they have to recover from the actual surgery itself."

The pain Romo felt in his Week 16 tilt against the Redskins was notable and obvious, but he gritted through that performance before finding out his season would end before the finale. He's expected to be back on the field in time to participate in offseason workouts.  [embedded_ad]

"He's moving around and everyone's optimistic he'll be back and ready to go for the offseason program," Garrett said.

-Rowan Kavner

Here are some more notes from Tuesday's Senior Bowl practices:

  • Oklahoma cornerback Aaron Colvin tore his ACL in the South squad's afternoon practice. Colvin, from Tulsa, Okla., was a Thorpe Award semifinalist in 2013 and was projected as a mid-round pick.
  • Garrett said it was a compliment to special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia, as well as the Cowboys, to see the coordinator get several head coaching interviews recently. Bisaccia interviewed for openings in Washington, Tennessee and Cleveland after leading the Cowboys' special teams last season. "We felt like in a lot of games we had an edge in special teams. The culture he brought into our special teams units was really helpful – we had really good specialists and we had core special teams players, but he's the guy that ran the whole show," Garrett said.
  • Contract decisions are approaching for several key young members of the Cowboys' roster, most notably Tyron Smith, Dez Bryant and Dan Bailey. Garrett said the Cowboys are continually mindful of that, even in the early going of the offseason. "Timing can be a big part of that, and I think we've done a good job of that in the past with players to make sure we keep them in the fold and develop them," he said.
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