Get-Away Day: Cowboys Huddle-Up

OXNARD - Thursday is our final day in Oxnard, a final day at camp, a final day to review the areas of progress in camp ... and the areas that are problematic in camp. Cowboys Huddle-Up!

News and notes and quotes from Oxnard as the Dallas Cowboys begin to pack their bags for home ...

A VIOLENT GAME - Wednesday's workout featured police protection, violence on the field, a day at the beach and continued concern for violence from the stands, as some Raiders fans showed up again almost certainly without the permission of their probation officers. My First Down Report here.

MIKE VS. MIKE - Justin Durant had another solid day of work as he attempts to fend off the talented Rolando McClain for the middle-linebacker job.

McClain looks like a weapon in pass coverage, his length and range giving Dallas that much-desired Urlacher feel in the middle on dropbacks.

I would suggest, though, that Rolando might drop the too-cool-for-school approach to talking football. I find him thoughtful but on Wednesday he was asked if he "loved football'' and he replied:

"I love life.''

That comes across as a "no'' and McClain knows it.

There is something football-nerdish about the "all-in'' concept that you see from people like Sean Lee, Tyron Smith, Barry Church, Jason Witten, Dez Bryant and so many others out here. But McClain would do himself a service by allowing himself the option of joining them as opposed to working so hard to appear "deep.''

TALK THE TALK: It does no good to talk a good game if you cannot back it up.

Dez Bryant can back it up.

Dez was unstoppable in the red-zone 1-on-1 stuff (which almost isn't fair to the likes of the Raiders' Carlos Rogers and others). He caught a fade for a score when Tony Romo quick-tossed the lob off a back-foot throw. He caught a 2-point conversation in the hurry-up after Witten scored a touchdown in a two-minute situation.

And when he saw teammate Jamar Newsome being bullied by Raiders, he jumped in the middle of that, too.

I asked him about the work ... and about the talk, especially his quip to the Raiders DBs: "I don't even know your name, but you know mine."

"All that is is competitive talk," Bryant told me. "It's just a little tactic I use to get those guys out of their game and we go at it. ... They started it anyways, so if you're going to start it, I hope you can finish it."

Bryant insists that he's funneling all his emotion into the right places, and the evidence is there.

"I know how to handle myself," Bryant said. "A little stuff that I've been working on, me getting under their skin instead of them getting underneath mine. It's all about fun and competing."

ROMO PHILOSOPHY - As we noted earlier in the week, Romo will make preseason his debut Saturday against the Baltimore Ravens. It's not known how much he'll play. But the philosophy is known.

"I think you have to play in the preseason," Romo said. "From my perspective, this game is not just something where you can show up and think that you can do it. I think it's been proven far too many times that if you take too long of a break or don't get reps under you that you will be exposed in certain areas. I'm a firm believer that you have to play football to get better at football. Football's a way of life.''

This week, as Romo has taken much of the first-team work most every day, it's more of a back-to-normal way of life, too.

ONSIDE KICKS - Dallas is clinging to hopes that Mo Claiborne can achieve greatness. 'We saw his ceiling being really, really high,'' Garrett said of drafting Claiborne. 'I think we’re starting to see a lot of that on the practice field." ... To my eyes, the Cowboys defensive linemen didn't win many battles with Raiders blockers, as pass-rushers or otherwise. And while Anthony Spencer can't hurry back just because of that, the possibility of him being ready for September is tantalizing ... Rookie defensive end Ben Gardner is looking at a "redshirt year'' as he'll undergo shoulder surgery and be placed on IR ... Lance Dunbar has lined up as a slot receiver over the last two days, something I didn't see earlier in camp ... Jeff Heath injured an ankle on Wednesday. ... Cowboys rookie WR Devin Street and Oakland S Larry Asante were the centerpiece of The Fight Of The Day ... Sterling Moore will get first crack at the slot corner job vacated by the four-game-suspended Orlando Scandrick. And yes, that's an indictment of Webb and a statement on how rookie Mitchell is really liked here - but not ready intellectually to handle such a load. ... Mo Claiborne says he dinged his shoulder but it's not serious. ... The Cowboys are signing tight end Asa Watson, a recent New England cut. Another ex-Patriot, Justin Green, acquired in the Ben Bass trade, should be on the field today.

THE FINAL WORD - "It's hard to soar with the eagles if you're out hooting with the owls." - A Jason Garrett quote misappropriated by ESPN to suggest the coach was referring to the "partying'' of Orlando Scandrick when in fact Garrett was joking about seemingly hungover media members.

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