Newman Looking Ahead

The player thought to be most highly affected by the Dallas Cowboys' pursuit of free agent cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha was veteran cornerback Terence Newman.

The veteran cornerback, it was widely speculated, might become roster casualty as the team sought a starting position — and the necessary money — to add Asomugha.

As it turned out, the player universally deemed the jewel of this year's free agent class ended up signing with the Philadelphia Eagles, but Newman said Sunday that he didn't pay much attention to the Asomugha-to-Dallas talk, and said owner Jerry Jones had good reason to consider opening his checkbook for Asomugha.

"Not a lot," he said when asked how much time he spent thinking about the rumors of Asomugha's potential arrival … and his own possible departure. "We didn't play very well in the secondary last year, and the No. 1 focus we have right now is to try to get better as a team, as a secondary and as a defense. That's what my focus has been since Day 1, since I got here. I'm not a prophet, and I can't tell you what's going to happen in the future. All I know is what I can do, and what I can control, and I'm just out here trying to get better."

Newman said he had not spoken with anyone from the Cowboys about the team's plan to pursue Asomugha, or the franchise's plan for Newman in 2011

"No — this is a business," Newman said. "Like I said, I'm just focused on trying to get better and trying to make this team better. That's why I waited until today (to speak to the media). I figured this would die down a little bit."

Newman's statement that he had not spoken with anyone from the team about the Asomugha sweepstakes or his own role with the team going forward seemed to dispute what new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan said Saturday, when Ryan indicated that there had been open lines of communication about the subject."

"I'm up front and honest with everybody," Ryan said. "You can ask him if there's been any dialogue, but absolutely I talk to every player."

Meanwhile, Jones disputed the assumption that adding Asomugha automatically meant Newman would have been sent packing.

"We certainly saw a chance, really there within a day or so saw that we had an opportunity to get involved (on the pursuit of Asomugha)," Jones said. "You can never get enough corners. That's pure speculation that we were going to do anything with (Terence) Newman. We just probably thought the same thing Philadelphia thought: (Asomugha is) an outstanding player and a chance to get him. We had done (a contract for Marcus) Spears; we had done (Kyle) Kosier; we had done (Doug) Free. We thought we could get some other stuff done that we wanted to and saw what we could do. We wanted to go after him. There was a point there yesterday afternoon I thought we would get him."

Regardless of what was or was not said between team officials and Newman, the ninth-year veteran said the Asomugha circus did nothing to damage the relationship he has with the only organization he has played for in his professional career.

"As far as having 60 new defenses (defensive plays) come in four days, my feelings are hurt about that — my head is spinning," Newman said. "But this is a business. Say Nnamdi did come. Does that necessarily mean I would be gone? It doesn't.

"So right now, the questions about the whole situation are speculation. You can talk about, ‘OK — well, if this happens, then so-and-so is gone,' or whatnot. That's never (come) from the owner or any of my coaches. To me, that's just speculation and doesn't matter. I'm here. He's in Philly. That's what I'm focused on right now and moving forward."

Newman said the taste of last year, when the Cowboys finished the season with a 6-10 record and ranked 23rd in total defense, still lingers. He said he and his teammates are eager to put last year's performance behind them.

"We did not play good at all," Newman said. "Case in point: we didn't do well technically. We didn't execute well. You talk about the secondary, but I think the secondary also is a part of the things that happen in front of us. So as a defense, we didn't play up to our standards. You can point out the secondary. You can point out what you have, but my focus is the defense. The secondary didn't play well, but there's a lot of different areas that we could have improved on besides the secondary. I think it was a team effort. The secondary doesn't play well, they always talk about other guys trying to step up and taking pressure off of guys. Yet, we didn't play well in the secondary, but I don't think we played well as a unit.

"A lot of guys have never been through that. Bradie (James) went to LSU — he's never been through anything like that. (Jason) Witten went to Tennessee. I went to Kansas State. A lot of us are not used to those kinds of situations, because we went to programs that have never witnessed the true ‘downs,' and last year was one of the true ‘downs.' That was one of the worst things I've ever been through, and it hurt. My whole focus on this offseason was to get better as a person, because I worked out pretty much by myself. Now while we're here, when we get on this field, you can tell that it's all business and everybody takes that to heart."

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