Cowboys Insider: Thursday Practice Report

IRVING - Holloman's diagnosis ... Video of Romo throwing at practice, with no 'boom!' ... What's Dez concerned about? ... McClain working out - and video of his linebacker mates working on a 'strip drill' ... Exclusive news, notes, quotes and analysis from inside Valley Ranch here!

THE LEAD STORY: The promising football career of young linebacker DeVonte Holloman is over, the result of a neck-related problem that has plagued him this summer and maybe last season, too, when he missed seven Dallas Cowboys games due to injury.

“DeVonte got information back from the doctors,'' coach Jason Garrett announced Thursday, "and it doesn’t look like he’s going to be able to play football any more. This becomes an easy decision for him and his family when you’re dealing with that kind of an injury.
"He's going to go forward and live a happy, healthy life.''

Holloman, 23, was a sixth-round pick in 2013 who sustained a spinal contusion a year ago but otherwise excelled as a special-teamer and a linebacker prospect. He started the last two games at middle linebacker for the '13 Cowboys, recording two sacks and leading the team with 11 tackles in the season finale against the Eagles.

“It’s a very challenging, difficult thing for a young man who has dreams of being an NFL football player (and) achieves those dreams,” said Garrett, who has invited Holloman to remain with the club in some capacity. “I told him this morning, ‘You’re a 10-year player in my mind. You’ll be for a long, long time.’ He just has everything you want. He has physical ability, he’s tough and has good feel for the game.''

The Cowboys aren't directly saying the spine contusion and this neck injury are tied; in fact, HIPAA laws preclude them from saying much at all, leaving Holloman to eventually address his condition. But I am reminded of the way my friend Michael Irvin's career ended and wonder if the discovery of a condition now -- as sad as it is -- might be vastly better than some of the alternatives.

STRETCH IT OUT: Let's get started inside practice with the way they get started: Oh, that hamstring awareness and the stretch-it-out:

DEZ' CONCERN: Once upon a time, not that long ago, weren't you worried about Dez Bryant's ... well, Dez Bryant's lots of things? Most recently, his contract?

Guess what Dez himself concerns himself with?

It was just one route, in a relatively meaningless preseason game. But it was run imperfectly, and the person guilty of the offense needed to be called on it.

“Oh yes, oh yes, oh yes,” said Bryant, the Cowboys' stellar receiver, did indeed have his mistake in Saturday's preseason game against Baltimore pointed out to him by Garrett and the coaching staff. "If it’s not right, tell me it’s not right because I want to do my best to fix it. You should never be satisfied. Nobody. Never get comfortable. That’s when you start falling downhill. Like I said, you’ve got to always have room to grow. I have a lot."

No argument there as Bryant - clearly poised to vault in to the elite of NFL pass-catchers has made marketed improvements in previous areas of concern, including ball maintenance, the prop from one of emotions, and route-running.

“I feel like I made a jump from being an average route runner to now a good route runner,” said Bryant, who even during the learning curve has 34 TD catches in the past three seasons, capped last year by his first Pro Bowl. "It’s a step ahead of 'good,' so I made an improvement. and I’m going to keep doing that. Being fast off the line. Trying to win the first five yards. Explosion and burst at the end of the route. Creating a better target for the quarterback.”

The quarterbacks have no complaints. Nor does the head coach.

Said Garrett: “It’s pretty easy to look at that (one bad route in the middle of what was a with three-catch, 59-yard, 1-TD first quarter) and say, ‘Dez we have to do this, this and this.’ And there are other plays. But he’s playing really well. He’s a heck of a football player, who loves to play and he cares about getting better and better to make himself great and make our team great. It’s fun to coach him. He still has a long, long way to go as a player, and he wants to get there.”

That doesn't make Bryant sound like the sort of prima donna so commonplace at his position. “It’s coaching," Bryant said. "They’re doing their job. They’re coaching us well like they always do. If you do it right, they’re going to tell you did it right. I’ve run better routes than that. We corrected that the next day.”
More than ever, the Cowboys figure to rely on Bryant as a primary weapon.

“The more you learn, the more stuff you get thrown at you," Bryant said. "We’re going to see. I’m excited about it ... I feel like I have a lot of room to grow. I’m going to continue to keep doing that, enjoying this game, living to make plays.”

ROMO STAYS ON SCHEDULE: Tony Romo says there has been no "eureka!'' moment regarding his back and his readiness.

He's just pretty much ready.

“I don’t think there’s a point (where you discover sudden readiness),'' he said. "I think you just start feeling better and better, you test things out a little more and then you just kind of go be who you are and do what you do.

“Maybe there will come a time where I’m like: ‘Boy, I haven’t been able to do that in a while.’ But that part of it just hasn’t (happened). No thought on that point where I’m like, ‘Boom! I’m back.’ You just continue to get stronger and stronger and stronger and doing things more and more and more and just kind of do it.”

Like his coach, Romo isn't willing to discuss the details of playtime plans for Miami.

“More than anything, you just want to execute as an offense and go out and do well,” Romo said. “We gauge a lot sometimes off of two drives. Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s a little silly ... We’re consistently doing things day-in and day-out, but not go crazy over a drive or two, good or bad. Just keep doing it every day. It’s just not in the games. It’s in the practices as well.”

Here, CowboysHQ video of Romo at work on Thursday:

KEEP IT HERE!: Want more Cowboys news and views throughout the day, live from wherever the Cowboys are? Keep it here on CowboysHQ as we will keep you posted in a variety of ways from inside Valley Ranch ... 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.

Also, hear "Fish on The Fan'' with live updates from inside Valley Ranch throughout the day - including 11:30 a.m. from the practice field and 8:30 nightly - on THE Cowboys Station, 105.3 The Fan. I'll also be a part of the game broadcast, of course, on Saturday, along with Brad Sham and company!

ONSIDE KICKS: B.W. Webb (hip) took Thursday off. Fellow cornerback Sterling Moore (groin) was able to practice. Mo Claiborne will (shoulder) will not play Saturday in Miami. Brandon Carr once again reiterated he's "full-go'' for the preseason game ... Henry Melton (groin) worked on the side and will not be ready for Miami ... The Cowboys are reportedly working out ex-TCU linebacker Jason Phillips, a special-teamer cut by the Eagles ... Representatives from the team, the City of Frisco and Frisco ISD will break ground on the Cowboys' practice facility tomorrow. The new HQ is scheduled to be ready for 2016. ... Rolando McClain (cramping) was back at work today. ... The latest Cowboys Crunchtime Podcast is here. As good as it gets, y'all.

STRIP DRILLS: You work on it in practice. You dream about it for games.

THE FINAL WORD: “You can’t mess around with neck injuries. I mean, you could play here a couple of more years or be in a wheelchair for the rest of your life. You’ve got to make that decision and he made the right one, but it’s a tough one.’’ - Barry Church on teammate Holloman.

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