Wade Phillips Talks Training Camp

As the Dallas Cowboys prepare to begin the second part of their training camp — in Oxnard, Calif., far away from the Texas heat — the team still has a few questions to answer. Head coach Wade Phillips offered some answers.

Rookie wide receiver Dez Bryant, the team's first-round pick, has been held out of practice while working his way back from a high ankle sprain. He has said he'd like to be back on the field before the end of training camp, but is that goal realistic?
Phillips: "I don't know that. I don't have a feel for when Dez (Bryant) is going to be back. My hope is he'd be ready for the first regular season game. I don't have any indication one way or the other if he would be or not."

With reserve tight end John Phillips already lost for the year, how soon will Martellus Bennett and Scott Sicko return to the practice field?
Phillips: "I don't think either one of them will be back this week. The concussion deal with (Scott) Sicko is that there's a procedure you go through with the league and the time starts at a certain time and they have a week after that, but I don't know if his time has started yet so it will be close as far as Scott Sicko is concerned. Martellus (Bennett), I don't know but he may play, but I don't think right now he'll play this game (San Diego). I think he'll play the next two games for sure, but I don't know about this game … (Bennett) had some kind of setback. It's a little different. It's not a high ankle sprain; it's in between that. All I know is they think he'll be ready for the last two for sure and maybe this one."

Are the ankle injuries Bryant and Bennett suffered similar?
Phillips: "No they don't have the same injury at all. We just go by what the doctors and the athletic training staff says. They work with them all of the time and they let us know where they are, so that's the way we do it. They haven't told me that Dez is going to play in another week. I just wait and see."

Will Montrae Holland or Alex Barron play in the team's next preseason game against the San Diego Chargers?
Phillips: "Holland and Barron may play this week depending on the practice time, but they're getting closer. I would say with both of those guys too as far as I know the last two games they would play for sure, but they're more … likely to play this game than Martellus is what they're telling me."

The offensive line is a veteran group, but for a few years now, developing depth along the line has been identified as a priority. What did you think of the play of some of the young linemen in the game against the Oakland Raiders?
Phillips: "We saw some good things and some things that weren't so good, but they did get some playing time. (Robert) Brewster made fewer mistakes than he made in the first game, which was a positive. We can see in the games that he's a good athlete and that he's strong. That was improvement there. (Travis) Bright I thought played well at guard and played very strong there. (Sam) Young did a good job again for us. He's a good-looking player and a good developmental player. We've still got a lot of things to work on, and they're not there yet, but they did show some things that we liked.

"The only thing with (Phil) Costa, and everybody knows that, is his size. He's a little bit undersized but he plays well. Now, could he play well against Albert Haynesworth? That's what we need to see is if he can play well against the first team guys and do the things that he's doing against the second- or third-team guys. He's playing well against those people."

With Marc Colombo coming off a season in which he was injured, and Doug Free taking over starting role on the left side, what were your impressions of the starting offensive tackles?
Phillips: "As far as pass protection, we overcame three sacks and still kicked a field goal in the first drive. I thought (Doug) Free played well again. I think he's a good player. I think we're going to be real happy with him. (Marc) Colombo is still moving well and is working hard at what he does and I think he's going to be the same consistent guy that we've had, so I feel good about our tackles."

What were your impressions of the defense against Oakland?
Phillips: "I'll say it again, I thought at the end of last year our front seven was really strong and I think they still are. I think our secondary is coming along. We had 31 plays between our three corners and we had one minus in 40-something plays. That's the best I've seen in a long time anywhere and in any kind of game. I think our corners are playing really well which goes along with our front seven and you've got a pretty good group.

"We've taken basically base steps so far. We've got a lot of other things that we need to execute. I know from (Washington Redskins head coach) Mike Shanahan, and going against him a lot, that they give you a lot of problems defensively and try to gain advantages by formations. So we need a lot of work on different formations and motions that we're going to see during the regular season. Then also some of the things we haven't run, we'll need to be able to execute those well to play well in the ballgame. I think they've had a really good start. They have a lot of confidence and we didn't have (Marcus) Spears (in two preseason games), so it's still a good start for us. Everybody usually says the defense comes along faster than the offense, but this group is a pretty good group."

When Nick Folk was released last season, many assumed David Buehler would get the placekicking job (in addition to his duties as kickoff specialist). Then you had a couple of other kickers in camp this year, but let them go. How would you describe Buehler's progress through two exhibition games?
Phillips: "I think he's looked awful good. He kicked six field goals in two games already, and really could have won both games. I thought in this last game he really hit the ball well and that's partly confidence and partly just going through it. There's a lot of pressure situations for him. Every kick is a big kick. He knows that if he misses one 40-yarder or 35-yarder … it's the biggest thing in the world in Dallas. It's good and puts the pressure on him to come through and I think he has come through well. We know he can kick distance for you and his consistency has been good. He's done well in practice … and he's done the same thing in the game."

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