Cowboys Insider Notebook: No 'Super' Talk

OXNARD, Calif. - Cowboys owner Jerry Jones swears he won't use the words "Super Bowl." But the potential of his Cowboys to compete at that level is about to be evidenced in training camp. Come inside for all the scoop:



NO 'SUPER' TALK: Jerry Jones revealed his issues with his physical state ... and his mental state, too, unable to disguise his enthusiasm in both areas as on Wednesday he offered up his annual overview of the team on the eve of the first training camp workout here in Oxnard. The Cowboys are defending NFC East champions coming off a 12-4 record ... but Jones insists he'll avoid using the words "Super Bowl'' to describe his club's next step.

He does see "more freshness, more bright-eyed, rookie attitude" from this edition from the team. And he is fairly bushy-tailed, too, following recent hip-replacement surgery that had him joking about being a bit wobbly (but no more than in previous training-camp years when he'd been out a 'geein'-and-a-hawin' into the night from Austin to Wichita Falls to San Antonio to LA.

Maybe Jerry's reluctance to project is steered by coach Jason Garrett, who is repeated preachingly a "what-have-you-done-lately message to his Cowboys.

"We really don't believe that you build on something from the previous year,'' said RedBall, making the point that today is the beginning of what the 2015 Cowboys are building on ... and that it doesn't even need to be said where they wish to end up.

MOUNTAIN MAN: We’ve met “Arts-And-Crafty Tony Romo. And on Thursday’s first practice of Dallas Cowboys training camp, we’ll reunite with Pro Bowl quarterback Tony Romo.

But in between, in the last few days, he’s been “West Hollywood’’ Romo. And maybe he’s been “Mountain Fitness’’ Tony.

Romo was among a handful of Cowboys who didn’t arrive in Southern California via Tuesday’s team flight. Instead, he arrived days earlier. One reason was to celebrate the 30th birthday of his brother-in-law, Chace Crawford, with a private “comedy roast’’ featuring Romo, his wife Candace, and family and celebrity friends.

The other? Maybe to run up and down the mountainous terrain of the area, a fitness effort that served him well last year when he overcame back surgery to post perhaps his greatest season ever.

“(Romo) is a great player and has been for a long time,’’ coach Jason Garrett said at Wednesday’s camp-opening presser in Oxnard.

The Cowboys haven't yet formulated a plan of rest for Romo; they'll monitor this as we go, all the way into the regular season, when last year, "Romo Wednesdays'' were so effective.

MINCEY'S MONEY: Cowboys defensive end Jeremy Mincey has been talking to the front office about getting a new contract. But now that camp is here and Mincey is not -- he’s yet to arrive in Oxnard -- the Cowboys are done talking.

"We won't be negotiating with him while he's not here,'' COO Stephen Jones said at Wednesday camp-opening press conference.

Mincey's leverage in attempting to up his present deal (a two-year contract that pays him $1.5 mil this season) is, maybe, not showing up. The Cowboys' counterpunch is to shut down talks that have been ongoing for months -- and further, to fine Mincey as much as $30,000 per day for missing training camp.

"He will be fined accordingly if he misses camp,'' said Jones, terming the team's 2014 sack leader's absence "disappointing.''

DEZ DOINGS: Dez Bryant found his owner and his coach on Wednesday and gave them a hug.

Today marks the start of giving them something even bigger. ... and it's all the result of both sides avoiding what would've been "Dez Watch,'' as Stephen Jones labeled it.

"The Dez Watch is something that wouldn't have been welcomed by Coach Garrett, his teammates, and certainly by Jerry and myself," Stephen said. "We wanted to avoid that. He's a big reason for our success last year, the energy he brings to not only the field during a game, but to a practice field, a workout or meeting. His presence is a big deal. To have him here from Day 1 is a big part of what was pushing us as well. He's a leader on this team and he's a big part of it. We wanted to have him here."

No Dez here would've meant a daily dark cloud here. Instead, the team -- which is actually talking about limiting Bryant early in camp because he hasn't been in competitive situations this spring, a silly thought in my view -- gets the full benefit of Dez' "persona,'' as Garrett called it.

"When you have a guy like that with such a presence in some ways you feel his absence more," Garrett said. "I've played with guys throughout my career, we've coached guys on our team throughout our careers where this guy might be a great player but he doesn't quite have that persona or that personality on the field, and when he's not there you miss him but some of the residual impact isn't quite as significant.

Dez is one of those guys who you miss him because of the kind of player he is but also because of his personality and the energy that he brings."

And now, thanks to the deadline-beating five-year, $70-mil deal, they don't have to miss it at all. Instead of "Dez Watch,'' we get to simply "Watch Dez.''

WHO'S NO. 1?: Jerry rattled off the names of the RB candidates and their credentials.

*"We have a player (in Randle) that has the potential -- and we based that on, not on what he did at Oklahoma State or how we drafted him, but by literally being a teammate around here for the last two years -- but he has the potential to be the kind of back that would step in there and be your No. 1 back," Jones told reporters. "If he were not here, then I wouldn't feel as good as we go into the season and what might happen."

*McFadden "does have the potential, too, with the right numbers of carries and the right opportunity," noting that the combination of Randle and McFadden "to some degree, that's the kind of back -- if you add those two together -- we had in (DeMarco) Murray." ... (McFadden) is in the best shape of his career."

*Lance Dunbar "needs to touch the ball more.''

What does it all mean? Not a damn thing. It doesn't mean Randle is the starter, though he's likely to get the first crack at that today. It doesn't mean McFadden stays healthy, "best shape'' or not. It doesn't mean Dunbar actually gets more touches; haven't the Cowboys been pledging that to themselves for four years? It doesn't even mean a commitment to a committee-based approach.

Nothing Jerry said is significant here. All that is significant is what those three do with the chances they are given ... and how coaches decide to dole out those chances.

MCCLAIN UPDATE: Stop me if you're heard this before.

Rolando McClain is in camp. But he's not expected to participate much as he deals with "issues.''

Foremost among those, Garrett said, is that McClain will be rehabbing after right knee surgery during the offseason. But when pressed on what other "issues'' Ro has, the coach peeled back and said he was simply referring to the rehab.

So Brinkley starts in the middle, flanked by Sean Lee. Battles ensue elsewhere -- and maybe Battles in Bubblewrap, as the Cowboys ease into this -- but the battles won't include Ro for now. As as he's due to serve a four-game suspension for drug use to start the season, the battles don't include him later, either.

JERRY SHOULDN'T BUT ...: Jerry Jones was asked to comment on Deflategate, the punishment of Tom Brady that could mean he missed this year's Patriots-at-Dallas meeting, and the controversy bring overseen by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.

“I certainly shouldn’t and wouldn’t comment about another team’s issues,” Jones said.

But then he did. And did some more.

"Let me really emphasize how much I endorse our commissioner," Jones said. "And how strongly I feel about the job he is doing. He has got obviously a very tough job. ... But that's why he makes the big bucks."

Jones comically noted that the public isn't playing a sympathy "violin" for Goodell over his challenges.

“We have a commissioner that is outstanding," said Jones, who also raved about the talents of Brady (presently facing a four-game suspension which would cause him to miss the Cowboys game) and about the talents of New England owner Bob Kraft and coach Bill Belichick and their ability to compete with the Cowboys even without their iconic QB.

But otherwise ... Jerry shouldn't and wouldn't say anything about it.


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