OXNARD, Calif. - Jason Witten came into training camp this season as one of the Cowboys' unquestionable leaders. However, leadership and his typical role as fan-favorite won't be the only things expected from the 10th-year pro. The team will also be heavily relying on a productive season from Witten catching passes from the tight end position and serving as Tony Romo's security blanket.
After practice on Tuesday Witten took a moment to talk about what how quickly 10 years can go by, the importance of conditioning and why exactly it can't be "the same old story."
Early thoughts on what you have seen so far?
Witten:It's really early. We'll be able to tell more when we get the pads on. Everybody's working hard with great intensity and a tremendous amount of focus. We've said it all off-season; it's time for this team to get it done. We've had a great approach so far. Coach Garrett has given us great leadership. The guys are coming out and putting the work in every day.
Can you believe that you and Tony are going into your 10th year?
Witten:It goes fast. I'll be damned if I let this opportunity slip and not come away with a championship. It's been a heck of a run. It's time we grab it. It goes really for all of us, the core group of us. That's what Coach Garrett has talked about, this group trying to do it. And I think we have the right group of guys to get it done. You really just have to put that work in to give yourself a chance. There's no other way. That's what every other team is trying to do. That's the focus we're trying to have here. It's great weather, but we got go out and put that work in.
The practices have ended with some serious conditioning. Is that the mentality of having to finish strong?
Witten:Yeah, yesterday (Monday) you guys saw Coach Garrett called us back. We saw it firsthand last year. We didn't finish enough games. We had a chance to win ball games and we let them slip. These are long practices with a lot of running, but you have to gut it out. That's what the fourth quarter of games is going to be like. I think it's a great approach for us. A lot of it is physical, but it's also mental. Hopefully it will pay off for us.
What did you mean when you said a few weeks ago that it couldn't be "the same old story"?
Witten:I think the question was about the window and I was simply saying we can't have the same old story. 8-8 is not good enough. I believe in the men that we have and I believe we work the right way. Ultimately, we didn't make the playoffs last year and that's all I was trying to say. We have to go earn it, nobody's going to give us anything.