Huddle-Up: Make-Or-Break At Camp Cowboys

OXNARD - Last year to open Cowboys training camp, owner Jerry Jones was asked about Jason Garrett's job security and said it wasn't an "Armageddon" year for the coach. So how about 'make-or-break'? We take you inside Camp Cowboys for Thursday Huddle-Up:

Make or break?: Last year to open Cowboys training camp, owner Jerry Jones was asked about Jason Garrett's job security and said it wasn't an "Armageddon" year for the coach.

During Wednesday's state-of-the-Cowboys address to open the 2014 camp, Jones was asked the same question. He refused to use the word "Armageddon" - "I'm superstitious," he laughed - but the message of support for Garrett was the same.

“In terms of the record of this team, this is not a make-or-break situation for Jason and members of this staff,” Jones said. “We both know where our expectations are, and when it’s looking good or when it’s looking dire. I don’t expect it to be the latter.”


The Cowboys are coming off three consecutive 8-8 seasons under Garrett, and while they have transformed themselves from one of the oldest teams in the NFL to one of the youngest and say rehabbed QB Tony Romo is a "full go" for Thursday's start of workouts, this is the final year of Garrett's contract. And Jones said repeatedly Wednesday that he expects this team to "compete right now."

'I'm very optimistic that we have a team that can come together and compete, and compete right now," said Jones, adding, "we're a better team, on paper, than when we lined up against Philly at the end of the season."

Of course, "on paper" promise and "in July" promises mean nothing. "Armageddon" always was a bit overdramatic.

"Make-or-break" probably is not.

Romo 'full-go':
The Cowboys' training camp introductory press conference in Oxnard on Wednesday was loaded with storylines, but none greater than coach Garrett's pronouncement regarding rehabbing QB Tony Romo.

"We do anticipate him being able to go in all aspects,'' Garrett said, looking forward to toay's Day 1 of work. "Full-go.''
Now, Garrett did temper his remarks by adding that the Dallas Cowboys coaching and training staff will be monitoring Romo as he returns to football following season-ending discectomy surgery last winter. Garrett said he doesn't want the 34-year-old QB "bangin' balls''; that is, making an endless series of meaningless and demanding throws.

But the forecast is the forecast: "Full-go.'' And therefore, for the Cowboys, the Romo forecast could not be sunnier, as our Mark Lane explains here in this stat/history breakdown.

Welome to 'The Ride: If you are a Cowboys fan and are new to CowboysHQ, welcome! Best way to get acquainted? Come ride shotgun with Aikman and me for "The Ride'' ...

The hyperbolic overview: Nobody does it better than KD Drummond, who gathers up all the news and the silliness from the state-of-the-Cowboys address here.
One click. All Cowboys: Details from practice, from the locker room and from the front office. 1-on-1's with Romo and Dez and everyone in between. Videos and photos from the field. It's all here in the CowboysHQ news file!

Brent status? More of the same: There is really no reason to treat Wednesday's open discussions about Josh Brent as breaking news. Brent could return to the Cowboys when he is granted reinstatement by the NFL, pending any NFL punishment handed down following his conviction of intoxication manslaughter in the case regarding the December 2012 car wreck that killed former teammate Jerry Brown Jr.

The Joneses have stood by Brent so strongly that his offseason job, sources have told me, was working in a Cowboys-owned warehouse.

“I do believe in paying your debt,” Jones said. “We have stood with Josh Brent from the very beginning and continue [to do so]. Josh Brent deserves an opportunity. He has made a terrible mistake. He knows it. I know firsthand he has contrition. I know that. And so yes, I will consider giving him an opportunity.”

Just the beginning of our coverage? Yup. Keep it here on CowboysHQ during what some might foolishly call "the off-time'' as we will keep you posted in a variety of ways from inside your team ... Here on the HOME page, here on CowboysHQ Discussion Boards, and on Twitter, where we encourage you to follow Mike Fisher, KD Drummond, Mark Lane and Jordan Ross along with our 105.3 The Fan colleague Bryan Broaddus. ... Hope you'll join us!
Onside kicks: Hear "Fish on The Fan'' with live updates throughout the day from Oxnard The Cowboys Station, 105.3 The Fan. ... The Cowboys think they've done their homework on the troubled Rolando McClain. So even though the former Raiders first-rounder, 25, hasn’t played since 2012 and will miss Friday's workouts because of a trial in Alabama (on a disorderly conduct charge), there is a great deal of optimism here regarding the middle linebacker. “We felt like with his ability, with the kind of person he’s demonstrated himself to be in the past, maybe we can help him through some of these issues he has and get this guy back playing at the level we all thought he was capable of playing,” said Garrett, who got an endorsement from pal Nick Saban, McClain's Crimson Tide coach. "Obviously, with Sean Lee’s absence, we’re looking for help and competition at the linebacker position. We felt like he was a guy who was a very viable candidate. Really excited to see him play.” ... Dallas is hoping Spencer and Okoye are the only two players who won't be ready to go today. ... While players did their own "conditioning test,'' Garrett said the previous system - making the cross-country trip and then asking players to sprint their way through a test - was a "recipe for disaster.'' The team has made a change there, all hamstring-minded, I think, and will also spend the first two days with the offense and defense working separately. "Hamstring Helper,'' again, is the entire point. ... Big eyeball-drawer today: I go with DT Henry Melton, cleared to open training camp and maybe able to fill a need with his Pro Bowl talent. ... The Cowboys are considering whether to return to Oxnard for future training camp practices. They are in the final year of their contract here. The Frisco facility, expected to be ready in 2016, is in play here. ... Garrett said he had an inspirational phone conversation with tennis legend Billie Jean King. No word on whether Evonne Goolagong's call ever went through.

The Final Word: "I know how we got to the playoffs. I know how we got to them when Jimmy was here. We all have goals. I understand this." - Jerry Jones.

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