Garrett still focused on big picture

IRVING, Tex. - For weeks there has been speculation that interim Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett is in something of a no-win situation.

He talks about looking at the "big picture" and doing what's best in the long-term interests of the team. If that's the case, the lineup against the Philadelphia Eagles will be loaded with youngsters and backups. On the other hand, until owner Jerry Jones announces who next season's head coach will be, Garrett has to play whichever players he feels give the Cowboys the best chance to win, because he remains on an extended audition to keep his job next year on a full-time basis.

To that end, Garrett announced Wednesday that veteran quarterback Jon Kitna "was limited" in practice after suffering an abdominal strain in Saturday's loss to Arizona. But he didn't rule out the possibility of Kitna returning to the field against the Eagles.

"He could," Garrett said when asked if Kitna could play even if he doesn't practice at all this week. "He didn't practice today, so he was limited in that way. But he is totally engagted in meetings."

Garrett is not averse to playing young backups, but pointed out that many of the young players who have gotten on the field, like cornerback Bryan McCann, wide receiver Manuel Johnson, guard Phil Costa, etc., have earned a spot in the lineup through normal attrition.

"A lot of that has happened naturally," Garrett said. "We have played a lot of young guys when we brought them up (from the practice squad). When we do, it's up to them to take the next step, but we take that (promotion of young players) on a case-by-case basis."

As the Cowboys' losses have piled up this season, more questions have been fired in Garrett's direction about when he would starting evaluating more young players by giving them more playing time.

"It's the nature of the NFL — this is a very competitive business," Garrett said. "It's not like we're trying not to look at players. We want to see these (young) guys play. We evaluate every minute of every play."

Garrett said the need to evaluate young players not only serves the long-term interests of the team, but of the individual players, as well.

"What we have emphasized to the players is that every opportunity they get, they have to put their best foot forward," Garrett said.

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