Jason Witten saw Tony Romo make himself into an NFL QB. And he's been in the process of seeing Kellen Moore try to do the same.
"Your heart hurts for him,'' Witten said Tuesday after No. 2 QB Moore sustained an ankle break that sources tell CHQ could mean eight weeks away from football and more if doctors opt for surgery. "He works really hard. He's constantly taking notes. He's studying. He's communicating. At that position, I've seen it with Tony for as long of a time as we came in. You never know when your [opportunity] is going to happen.
"He'll continue to fight. That's who he is, that's who he's been his whole life. He'll bounce back, I'm sure.''
But for now, the "fight'' is the job of rookie Dak Prescott up the depth chart to No. 2. ... though Dallas will use it's Wednesday day off to make a determination regarding pursuing a vet QB. (Foles? Yates? Michael Vick? A trade?)
"I don't have any comments about what, if anything, we'll be doing from here,'' said owner Jerry Jones, who can take comfort in the fact that his No. 1 guy is rarin' to go.
Moore is the story of the moment, but Romo is the story for the year, so as the Cowboys turn the page forward, we let you eavesdrop on Romo's remarks, unedited, unfiltered ... raw and good and hopefully buoyant while Dallas deals with issues at his backup spot.
WAS THERE ELECTRICITY TO BE IN PADS FOR THE FIRST TIME? -- Yeah, I think it’s a special day to get out here in pads and play football. Any time you get a chance to play this game it’s a great time. A lot of energy, a lot of excitement, it’s a new season so everyone is ready to roll.
HOW DO YOU FEEL? -- I feel good. We’re doing the same plan we’ve done before where try and sprinkle the day in here and there and try and map it out before camp comes in. Just go by how you feel.
IS THIS THE BEST SHAPE YOU'VE BEEN IN? -- Yeah, it’s the best offseason I’ve had in a long time. Just to be able to do all of the stuff you’re not always able to do. Obviously, camp is a lot more days in a row. We had three days in a row during the offseason when we had OTAs and so this first part was four, we thought we’d get a day in and then go from there each week and reassess it. You know, it’s been holding up. Everything has been going good. We just got to keep getting stronger and keep getting better.
SO ARE YOU GOING TO EASE INTO CAMP THEN ADD DAYS? -- You always want to be smart starting off. The silly thing is just to say you’re going to be perfect, let’s do everything 100 percent every day. I did that in minicamnp and OTAs, but there are just so many days to camp, it would be not very intelligent to pretend that you’re going to do everything every single day. Two times a day you’re out there throwing and moving, there’s just a lot more to it. They are a lot longer days. You just have to be smart and hopefully having the same feeling.
SO YOU'LL GO TWO DAYS THEN TAKE A DAY OFF LIKE IN '14? -- Yeah, that’s what we talked about. Just the ability to…You know, we’ve done it before. It’s not as if we’ve changed the routine completely in any capacity. I’ve probably had the same kind of routine I’ve had before just because we know that works. Now, as I continue to feel better you’ll sprinkle in a day longer here and then. I think you’ve just got to come in and get great work in and continue to get better.
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON ZEKE? -- He’s done a good job. There’s a lot to learn in the offense. It’s not easy coming into the NFL and having a system, especially like ours, where we ask you to do so much in the run game and the pass game. I think he’s handled it well. You can see his ability. We’re excited about him coming out and playing good.
DOES ZEKE DO A GOOD JOB ASKING QUESTIONS? -- Yeah, he can ask a few more, I think. He’s done a good job. Believe me, I’m in his ear enough. I think at this point he tries to stay away a little bit. It’s good for him to hear about a lot of the little intricate stuff that is going to come up at some point. You don’t want to overload him too much right away. At the same time, he’s got to hear it and go through it. He’ll make mistakes, but every rookie does. The good ones learn from it, come back and don’t make it again.
WHY DO ALL THE YOUNG GUYS SAY YOU'RE IN THEIR EAR? -- This is our football team. This is my football team. We want everyone to be their best. Anytime you have an opportunity to teach it is a good thing. Guys on the team understand how important it is to me, to the veterans of the team and the staff. We want that approach to be taken by everybody. They do a good job with that.
DID YOU THROW TO DEZ BEFORE CAMP? -- We got time. He came in in good shape. Obviously the running part of it. He has been running and doing good things that help him come out and be a lot better starting off here than if you don't work. He works hard. He just needs to get the normal rust off for a week. You are seeing some signs of him coming out pretty quickly. Like anybody it takes a few days.
DOES YOU AND DEZ COMING BACK AT THE SAME TIME HELP? -- Yeah it will make a difference, any time you can practice and play together it is never a negative. I have played with him so much. Its really not if the mannerisms have changed. its really just about your ability for me to throw it as accurate as I can. For him to be able to run all day and not get tired. He is in the process of that right now.
IS YOUR GOAL TO GET BACK TO 2014 FORM? -- I don't like saying that. Each year you got new guys. Even if you have the same players. Some develop. Some continue to grow. Some of the young guys are playing more. There is a million different things that come up. But I think in terms of style we want to able to run the football. We know we are going to be able to do some things pretty well. Its just a matter of the execution being at the level our leaders want. That part takes a lot of hard work in practice. The expectation is to raise that bad, really better than 2014. Obviously we know we did a lot of good things then but if you are resting on that as the standard then you are missing out on what possibly could be.
WERE YOU A LITTLE JEALOUS OF WARE LIKE WITTEN WAS? -- [DeMarcus] Ware is one of the best teammates I ever had. He is such a great guy. Couldnt help but be happy for him. He deserves it. We have nothing but love for him.
DID YOU SEE ANY OF THE FAT MEMES? -- Andy showed me a few of them. Thanks, Jon [Machota] , wherever you are at I don't think you have a future in photography.
SO IT DOESN'T BOTHER YOU AT ALL? -- I think I have gone through enough criticism in my career that that is the least of my worries. Granted if I was that big we would have to have some talks. But I think I will be all right.
WAS THERE A SENSE OF URGENCY LAST YEAR? -- It's a sense of urgency every year. Every year you walk it in you feel like its the most important season you are ever going to play. I feel that way again this year. That's why you do everything you can to be at your best.
DO YOU LOVE FOOTBALL EACH YEAR AS TIME GOES BY? -- You appreciate it more. I think you just, you love the competition. I know I love to compete and I love to see how good I can be. You’re challenged in that every day and every year. Getting to a point where one day in your career you get to be that version you always wanted to be. You’ve just got to wear it out for years. And you’ve got to go accomplish your goals. That’s what we’re trying to do.
IS YOUR TIMING A LITTLE OFF WITH DEZ? -- It had a little bit more to do with the linebackers. Dez was good on that route. I threw it a little early. I was trying to anticipate a little bit too much and look the backer off at the same time. At the last second I tried to (garble) it. But Dez was good on that route. That was me missing.
HOW MUCH LONGER DO YOU WANT TO PLAY? -- You don’t really think about that.
JERRY SAID FOUR TO FIVE MORE YEARS -- We’re on the same time table.
WHAT DID YOU THINK OF THE POLICE CEREMONY TO START CAMP? -- Anybody who lives in Dallas, who cares about human beings in general and life, you can’t help but feel that moment, just the difficultness that these families are going through. Anything that we can do in a small way to help ease the pain, it’s easy for us to do. It was a special day, special moment. Talking to those families, saw one of the children, and I’m a father of two kids, he’d just lost a dad. It’s hard.
THIS IS YOUR 14TH CAMP. DOES IT EVER GET OLD? -- No, it never gets old. If anything you get more excited each year to come back and play and go prove yourself. There’s a great joy in getting to a point in your career where you know what it takes, you know what the expectations are, you know what to expect out of yourself and then you’ve got to go out and do it. There’s a reward in there to go prove it to yourself and also to your teammates.
HOW HAS COLE BEASLEY DONE? -- Cole’s done a great job. He just continues to get better and better. I think he’ll be a big part of the offense this year.
WHAT ABOUT BRICE BUTLER? -- He’s doing a good job. We’ve got depth at the wide receiver position, as much as I’ve had in a while. (couldn’t make out some of it) I know the guys playing in the third and fourth quarters will have some good guys playing with them in the preseason.
WHAT ABOUT GAVIN ESCOBAR? -- He’s coming off the injury so he’s got to continue to get better, but he looks like he’s doing really well at this point. He’s worked hard. I know that. Just a matter of continuing to get stronger in the area he hurt. But he’s had a good start.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO GET USED TO WEARING THE PADS? -- It takes about a day for me. Usually it's like it's a little different. But when you have 'perfect fundamentals' it just goes the right way.
WHAT IMPRESSES YOU ABOUT DAK PRESCOTT? -- Yeah. I mean, honestly his demeanor, his intelligence. He's a smart kid. He picks things up quickly. And for rookies that's not always the easiest thing. So, I think that's been as impressive as anything his ability to pick it up and then go do it. Sometimes you can say it, but then you got to see it and react as far as who is the mike, certain things. Reads are going to come. You're going to make mistakes. You're going to go through your reads faster each year. But some of the other stuff that is just systematic just takes a little while. And he'll pick that up pretty quick. He's done a good job.
HAVE YOU SEEN SOMETHING FROM MO CLAIBORNE TODAY? -- Yeah. He did a good job. He broke up a pass that I threw. That's pretty tough to do. Mo's done a great job. He had a good camp last year. I think I want him to be good. He's on that verge. He just has to continue to bring it every single day and he's been doing that.
DO YOU WONDER ABOUT AUGUST TRAINING CAMP TIME WHEN YOU'RE RETIRED AND HOW SAD YOU'LL FEEL? -- I try not to think about that. I know one day it will happen. Hopefully it's a while from now. It will be tough like anything. I know when you went from the Morning News to ESPN it was like dying. But it happens.
HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH THE LOSS OF PRIVACY FROM WHEN YOU FIRST CAME OUT HERE? -- It's kind of what you make it. I've always said. It's never like you went from, bam, all of a sudden. Maybe it looks that way from the outside. But it never went from nothing to all of a sudden everyone knows who you are. It always felt like a progression, you're third, you're second, to playing first and playing well. So, the progression of life kind of happens. And more people see it and want to say hi and stuff. It's great. It just means you're doing something okay sometimes. As far as the privacy stuff, I have a family. I know where to go, spots where I can go have dinner and all the normal stuff. So, it's fine.
HOW DO YOU CONNECT WITH ROOKIES 15 YEARS YOUNGER THAN YOU? -- You can't connect with those guys. For the young guys, rookies, it's always difficult. I think the easy part is to just communicate with them about football. They want to be great at football. Passing on your knowledge and communicating with them. That's the number one way to start. And then they earn your trust along the way and the coaches'. And then you start to let them really be a part of the group, if that makes sense. Where when they first got here, there was so much to learn. They make mistakes. They come back and learn. You're always tough love, which you want them to continue to get better. And then when you start to see them get better you get excited for them. And then it's just like they're part of the group like everybody else, which takes a little bit. You know, guys in the NFL want to see people who are going to help the football team and who are going to help the football team day in and day out. Once that happens, you're part of the fraternity of our team.
DID ZEKE PASS THE SINGING TEST? -- He struggled day one. But day two was a little better.
WILL HE HAVE TO GO AGAIN? -- He might have to go again. We'll see. Might get him up there.
WHAT DID HE SING? -- He tried the Ohio State Buckeye alma mater song. We booed him off the stage for that one. But he came back with something strong.
WHAT'S THE GENRE YOU ALL ARE LOOKING FOR? -- The way to win in those drills is..." (Crowd screaming) "That's Andy throwing the ball. I'm not kidding. He's throwing it with Dez over there. He's getting better. The way to win at that is to sing a song that everyone knows. So if you sing a song everyone knows and get them singing, but if no one knows your song you have no chance.
WHAT WAS YOUR SONG? -- It's a secret. That was a long time ago. I think I sang... I think I got up with somebody else. I don't think it was Witt. It was someone else. It was 'Ring of Fire' and it was in San Antonio. Didn't go over very well. Not everyone knew 'Ring of Fire,' and the one guy who did, Dan Campbell, didn't like it.