The wait is over

IRVING, Tex. - The drudgery of the offseason is over … finally. OTAs, mini-camps, training camp and the exhibition games are a thing of the past.

For veterans like linebacker Bradie James, the preseason is an annual annoyance that must be survived, but even he admits to a few jitters as the Cowboys prepare for their first game of the regular season Sunday afternoon at Tampa Bay.

"You're judged now by wins and losses," James said. "Preseason — you forget about that until next preseason, but the season really matters, so it's time to … everybody get on the same page. We're here Monday, and got an extra day, and (the) guys are ready.

"(Sunday's opener is) just the next stop. A lot of us have butterflies, and we are anxious. The majority of us got up here about 7, 7:30 (a.m.), because we were ready to get into the groove of things. In preseason, it's all over the place — things were going on — but now it's structured, now it's time to really get on one accord and get focused on what really matters, and that's the season and winning some games."

James made no bones about the fact that he and his teammates remember vividly the season-ending rout they suffered at the hands of the Philadelphia Eagles, but said he doesn't envision any kind of hangover from that game as the 2009 season gets underway.

"You learn from years past, but now, it's a totally different team from last year," he said. "We've put in hard work, and we'll be ready for the upcoming season."

James said that he expects this year's team to be more balanced than some other Cowboys teams that relied so heavily on either the offense or the defense … but acknowledged that he still plans to help make sure the defense leads the way.

"It's a team effort," he said. "Some days, some games, the offense will play real well and score a whole bunch of points. I hope that's always, but at those times that they don't, defensively, the old adage is ‘if they don't score, they can't win.'

"So defensively, we have to be real good — we have to be good enough to allow our offense to get in there and make plays. Special teams are a big part of the deal, too — most of the defensive players are on special teams. So it's a definite collective team effort."

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