FRISCO, Texas – Xavier Woods had to be aware the questions were coming.
The Cowboys' fourth-year safety was scheduled to talk to reporters on Tuesday morning – just two days after Earl Thomas became a free agent, and just hours after his general manager declined to rule out the possibility of signing him.
Fortunately for Woods, he's got some experience with this. After all, the Cowboys' flirtation with Thomas has been ongoing for nearly three years.
"It doesn't bother me anymore, man," Woods said. "I don't even pay no mind to it."
That seems like a sign of growth, because it wasn't always the case. Last spring, when Thomas entered free agency and ultimately signed with the Baltimore Ravens, Woods allowed that all the chatter about safeties had gotten to him a bit.
"I just felt like it was disrespectful to me, but in all, I just use it as motivation," he said at the time.
This time around, Woods said he doesn't even need the added motivation. Instead, his approach was a familiar refrain.
"I just can control what I can control. That's the bottom line," he said. "I know my worth. I know that I can play and that's all that matters to me."
Like most of the members of this Cowboys secondary, Woods is about to find himself at a crossroads. Originally drafted in 2017, his rookie contract is over after this season. He has been a reliable contributor these past three years, starting 33 games and making 175 tackles. But will that be enough to merit a second contract – especially with an all-new coaching staff calling the shots?
It all might be true, but – similar to the Thomas talk – Woods doesn't seem worried about it. Asked about his motivators heading into the season, he kept it simple.
"To be the best player I can be, that's all -- and win a championship. That's it," he said.
There's beauty in that simplicity. Because if Woods achieves even one of those goals, let alone both, the rest will take care of itself.