These Guys are Good

The first two weeks in training camp has made one thing obvious. The Cowboys are deeper and more talented than they were last season.

Considering they went 13-3 and had the best record in the NFC in 2007, it's a comforting thought for the Cowboys.

They know they are good.

They know they are going to make the playoffs and have a good regulation season.

But they have also learned a lesson from a year ago and refuse to get ahead of themselves.

While many prognosticators are talking Super Bowl for the Cowboys this season, they say that talk should wait until they win at least one playoff game.

The Cowboys haven't won one of those since 1996, and have had five one-and-done exits since.

The Cowboys have vividly matured from a year ago, and it shows in their day to day approach to training camp practices.

A team with so few holes and no starting jobs up for grabs can sometimes be lulled into going through the motions at training camp.

But the Cowboys, who even liken themselves to a team of all-stars because there are so many big names, compete at a high level every day.

Credit the professionalism and the work ethic of team leaders like quarterback Tony Romo, receiver Terrell Owens, tight end Jason Witten, guard Leonard Davis and linebacker DeMarcus Ware.

Those guys got to where they are because of hard work, and they still refuse to take a step back.

But also credit the presence of newcomers Adam Jones and linebacker Zach Thomas. Jones competes in every drill and goes out all day.

The highlight of camp has been his daily battles with Owens. He goes out of his way to line against Owens on one-on-one drills. It makes Owens perform at a high level, and it's infectious because the team feeds off it.

"Yeah, that's what he is," secondary coach Dave Campo said. "He's a fun guy and he likes to play football. The key is getting a bunch of guys that like to practice, that like to play the game.

"When you get a bunch of guys out on the practice field that are having fun, it's infectious. Everybody picks everybody up, because I'm going to be honest with you, I'm 61-years-old and there are times when I walk out here that I'm not sure I want to be out there. I'm a little sore and tired. But if those guys run around having a good time, then I'm having a good time.

"It's infectious for everybody; it's good for everybody."

Thomas is the same way. He is not only smart, but he is still fast after 12 years in the league. He is running all over the field making plays, which prompts his fellow linebackers to do the same.

And then there is the daily battle between the offensive line, which features three Pro Bowlers, and the defensive line.

The defensive line is the only unit on the team that did not put one player in the Pro Bowl last season. But the unit takes a backseat to no one in terms of energy, aggressiveness and activity -- typified best by nose tackles Jay Ratliff and Tank Johnson.

"It helps immensely, and we were talking about that last night. That across the board how our offensive linemen are challenged, our tight ends and our backs are challenged, and certainly our wide receivers by the guys that are over there," offensive coordinator Jason Garrett said. "Wade made a point - we talked about keeping a high standard and every time you're going against somebody who's challenging you, it's hard not to keep the standard high.

"It's a competitive environment, but it's the healthy competitiveness that we like about it - it's healthy. (Jones and Owens) are both working hard, they're both trying to get themselves better and there isn't that kind of antagonism. I think that they understand that we are improving as a team because of the competition that's going on out there.

"It's great for a team."

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