10 Insider Notes from Training Camp

Ten takes from Cowboys Camp, filtered through me but really presented by some of our Oxnard spies – from both inside and outside the team.

10. Terence Newman is giddily unconcerned about the groin that kept him out of much Monday work. Maybe that means the injury is nothing, or maybe the light-heartedness is just a product of T-New's standard giddiness. But he's valuable goods, maybe fragile goods (he missed the first two games of '07 after a "not-too-serious'' camp injury to his foot. So it's a story.

At the same time, it's rather comforting to know that if one cornerback can't go, rookie first-rounder Mike Jenkins can step right in (as he did Monday for Newman), or Adam Jones steps up, or Anthony Henry steps up.

How in such a short time did Dallas' dubious secondary become so incredibly deep?

9. Roy Williams has a new jersey number (38) and a new attitude. Or so he says.

Quote from Roy: "I can't worry about what everyone else is saying. I'm not going to respond to foolish things. I'm not going to question who I am and my relationship with Christ for anybody.''

The fact that he's talking about his faith there is acceptable; I try to never question anyone's devotion, even when it seems that they are using religion to hide from real responsibility. But I will question this part, the part about Roy not "worrying about what everyone else is saying.''

Roy's rabbit ears are, in fact, the worst part of his game. And frankly, given some of his flaws, that's saying something.

8. Some Cowboys officials are privately chuckling about the problems Green Bay is having holding the reins on Brett Favre. Wasn't the Dallas management team supposed to be alternatively weak and lacking in self-control? Aren't the Dallas players the one who are supposed to be drama queeny? (Right now, Favre makes T.O. seem about as cancerously threatening as a Teletubby.)

I won't mention any names of any suits (or, because it's training camp, any shorts/golf shirts/'D' ballcaps), but there are Cowboys bigshots who see this as proof that America's Team's rep as "bad boys'' and the Packers' rep as "good Midwestern stock'' is a good Midwestern crock.

Meanwhile, they'd just as soon the Packers continue this Mississippi pissin' match. Favre in limbo keeps Green Bay in limbo. And Favre going to Minnesota makes the Vikings a legit NFC threat to the favored ‘Boys.

7. Michael Irvin and Nate Newton are in Oxnard as broadcasters. But they are really just volunteer assistant coaches disguised as broadcasters. And they are having a ball.

6. My friends at TheBigLead smart-assedly summarized the scene at Cowboys camp thusly:

Jessica Simpson's set to show up anyday now. Monday's highlight was Terrell Owens just abusing Pacman Jones to the oooos and ahhhhhs of a flotilla of onlookers. Tuesday? Michael Irvin and Emmitt Smith talk to the rookies about public speaking. Wednesday: celebrity boxing, Troy Aikman vs. Skip Bayless.

Pretty much dead on. It's a "traveling circus,'' like Terence Newman predicted to us it would be.

But there's something else about this sort of national-level analysis, no matter how clever: It reeks of jealousy. What fan doesn't wish this was HIS team – as long as Super Bowl contention is part of the circus?

5. Speaking of Tony Romo's better half: "Anyday now'' will be, I hear, Thursday.

4. Emmitt Smith is getting demoted, stripped of his wings, knocked down to buck private. … or something like that. ESPN still has him under contract for another year, so they'll do something with him (help Mike Greenberg and Erin Andrews host "The National Spelling Bee''?) But it won't be occupying a primo chair on the network's NFL coverage.

Cris Carter is getting that chair. Emmitt is getting the slow boot. And you know why this isn't such a bad thing?

If my man Emmitt really wants to be a broadcaster, he needs to train for it. Classes. Reporting. Learning. Improvement. And eventually, a job at a local level.

What I'm afraid of is that Emmitt probably thinks the idea of him interning at Fox4 or being a weekend anchor at Channel 33 is beneath him. Which is exactly the problem.

3. Cowboys people who read this space (and they do) are still amused over my item noting that rookie running back Felix Jones just bought a modest house in Coppell near Valley Ranch and, because he hadn't yet signed, furnished his pad with a wobbly TV and some lawn chairs.

It was a sign of humility from Felix, we hoped that humility would carry over to the field, and it has.

Plus, he's fast. Really fast. Remember our early-on reports from Oxnard of then-unknown Tyson Thompson, who three years ago walked onto the practice field and seemed to be two gears ahead of everybody else? Felix is about like that.

2. I said this as a native Minnesotan when he was a starter for the Vikings, I said it when I first saw him in a Cowboys uniform, and my spies confirm it now: Brad Johnson – nice guy, cerebral guy, blahblahblah – delivers the ball with such a lack of assertiveness and velocity that one wonders whether he's throwing with the wrong arm.

1. What does Wade Phillips' future hold? I'm kind of offending at the people who are pretending they know (yes, you, JJT) when even Jerry Jones himself is not locking himself into a plan.

"It's not a Super Bowl issue," Jones said of the "must-Wade-win-the-Super Bowl-to-survive'' angle. "Winning the Super Bowl is not the criteria. It's just plain wrong to say that if we don't win the Super Bowl then Wade doesn't keep his job. That's not even a thought for me."

Think Jerry, as love as he is with Jason Garrett's eventual ascension to NFL head coach, is bluffing? Suck on this:

"There's no (future promised) agreement with Jason,'' Jones says. "If offers come to (Garrett) after this season, there's nothing standing in his way of pursuing them. I wanted to find a way to keep both Wade and Jason and I've done that for this year. That was the goal.''

Next goal: Super Bowl. And who gets jobs and money and credit can all be figured out at the post-game party.


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