Arrives at Training Camp

SAN ANTONIO -- My hotel room here in San Antonio is in a different wing than my friend Tim Cowlishaw's headquarters and he must be getting some bad room service over there. I assume this because he's writing about the eve-of-training-camp Cowboys as if somebody urinated in his Cheerios.

"A new era!'' Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said today. "A lot to be excited about!''

Cowlishaw, the Dallas Morning News columnist, counters by suggesting Dallas "is setting up its fans for a disappointing fall.'' Why? Let Tim's column count the ways:

* Wade Phillips' career playoff record as a head coach is 0-3.

* Tim says the Cowboys aren't a "trendy Super Bowl pick'' as they were a year ago.

* The big-money off-season acquisition, he scoffs, was a guard.

* The Cowboys have inexperience at both coordinator spots.

* Tim wonders if "accountability'' is gone and whether "the inmates will run the asylum.''

* Cowlishaw says this defense only has one "pressure player'' (DeMarcus Ware). Some of Tim's facts are indisputable; the two coordinators are rookies and there figure to be growing pains. Other notes are factual (Phillips' playoff record) but not necessarily pertinent. And then there are the Cowlishaw worries that simply seem off the mark: Did spending money to upgrade this offensive line seem unwise to you? Oh, and this "pressure player'' thing. … Combine stats, potential and Phillips' defensive style and doesn't it seem that Dallas might employ as many as five defenders who can hassle QBs?

But I'm most interested in the late-July pessimism. At this time of the football season, even the Browns and the Cardinals and the Texans think they might just have something special.

Shouldn't the Cowboys, and their fans, believe the same?

Jerry Jones and Wade Phillips expressed that optimism in their State of the State Address on Wednesday as the team arrived here; Jones said his new coach was so excited to get to work that Phillips arrived here on Monday, 24 hours early.

Oh, there are a couple of early blemishes. O-linemen Flozell Adams and Marc Colombo (both still recovering from knee surgery) won't be available for Thursday's initial workout.

But mostly, this is happy happy fun fun. For instance, the Cowboys announced the signings of draftees Deon Anderson, Alan Ball and Doug Free and didn't seem very worried about having the rest of the fellas ready for tomorrow. Greg Ellis has been pronounced ready to go. I don't recall T.O. ever being discussed less in a press conference. In all, Jerry – who made a big deal of the fact that this camp is sponsored by Ford Trucks, which is better than it being sponsored by, say, a condom company or something – offered such a lengthy list of positives that Phillips was finally moved to say, "Hearing all those good things, it sounds like we should win ‘em all.''

OK, that's a little much.

But just because the Cowboys aren't a "trendy pick'' for the Super Bowl (and why, exactly, does that matter again?) doesn't mean they can't contend for one.

So, Cowboy Camper, let's agree that even if this is to be a rolller-coaster season – as most of them are for every team – we shouldn't exit the ride before it starts.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm heading down the hall to bring Tim Cowlishaw some chicken-noodle soup and Pepto-Bismol. ‘Cause burping up this "disappointing season'' thing in the first week of camp just has to be the result of something Tim ate.

Editor's Note: Stay tuned to for complete coverage of training camp in San Antonio, including exclusive interviews, breaking news, insider notes and observations and more!

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