Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant denied a report Wednesday that he had reached a plea deal with the Dallas District Attorney's office. DeSoto police filed a Class A misdemeanor charge of assault family violence against Bryant in July after his mother, Angela, called police about an alleged attack on her by Bryant.
Bryant was adamant Wednesday that no deal had been reached and nothing had been resolved. His advisor, David Wells, also said the report was false and no deal has been reached.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones gave coach Jason Garrett a vote of confidence on his radio show Tuesday despite the team's disappointing 3-4 start. Garrett said he and the coaching staff appreciate Jones' support and are focused on getting things going in the right direction starting Sunday against the undefeated Falcons.
"He’s an outstanding owner," Garrett said. "He supports every coach and payer here and does everything he can to help us be our best and win football games, so we appreciate that support and we’re focused on doing our jobs as well as we can do them."
Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant (hip) was one of eight players who did not practice Wednesday. He was injured at the end of the Giants' game when he fell in the end zone on a catch that originally was ruled a touchdown but reversed on replay.
The Cowboys continue to battle injuries at the running back position. DeMarco Murray has not practiced since Oct. 13 in the team's walk-through the day before the Ravens game when he sprained his left foot. His backup, Felix Jones, was limited in Wednesday's practice with a bruised knee. He was injured against the Panthers but started and played against the Giants. Jones likely will have to start again this week as the Cowboys are using caution with Murray.
Linebacker Dan Connor (neck), center Phil Costa (ankle), defensive end Jason Hatcher (shin), safety Matt Johnson (hamstring), defensive lineman Sean Lissemore (ankle) and receiver Kevin Ogletree (hamstring) also missed Wednesday's practice.
Cowboys tight end Jason Witten needs only four receptions to surpass Michael Irvin as the team's all-time receptions leader. Irvin had 750 receptions from 1988-99. Witten, who is in his 10th season, has 747 catches after his 18-reception performance last week against the Giants.
So it's not a question of if, but when.
"I don’t think you ever try to get caught up in that," Witten said Wednesday. "Obviously, you know what’s going on, and you really don’t like talking about it until it happens, you know, because you’re so focused on winning. You guys know me well enough that that’s most important, but when you’re talking about a guy like this, it’s obviously special, because he was one of the greatest. So just to be mentioned with Michael Irvin is special, and hopefully we’ll have a good discussion after a big win about it, once it happens. But really, until then, my focus is trying to help this team win and where we’re at in the season."
Witten, 30, would need a few more productive years to catch Irvin's team record for yards. Irvin had 11,904, while Witten has 8,396.
All signs point to running back DeMarco Murray missing another week with a sprained left foot. Murray hasn't been on the field since being injured in the Oct. 14 game against the Ravens.
He was not at practice Wednesday.
Murray was dressed in street clothes, wearing tennis shoes, in the locker room. He did not offer much on how his foot is healing.
"Wait and see," Murray said when asked if he would play Sunday.
Executive vice president Stephen Jones said Wednesday the Cowboys are being cautious with Murray's injury.
“On some of these injuries, if you push them, all you do is set them back,” Jones said during his weekly radio appearance on 105.3 The Fan [KRLD-FM]. “You might get them out there for 10 plays, and then he gets out there, and he’s looking down, and it’s just not quite holding up. So, you really got to make sure, especially at these skilled spots — running back or receiver or corner — that they’re really ready to go. We’ve had DeMarco in a boot for two weeks, on crutches. Now he’s getting out of that. But he’s a tough guy and no one wants to be out there more than him. But we just can’t afford to put him out there if he’s not going to be 110 (percent).”
Murray has missed five of a possible 23 games in his two NFL seasons. He ended his rookie season on injured reserve with a fractured right ankle.
Murray has 1,227 career yards, with a 5.1 per carry average. The Cowboys are 7-0 in the games Murray has carried 18 or more times.
"His only issue so far has just been staying healty," Jones said.
The Cowboys struggled to run the ball against the Giants, who were committed to stopping the run. They had 19 yards on 17 carries. They gained 85 yards on 31 carries the previous week against the Panthers.
Felix Jones left the Carolina game early with a bruised knee and was not 100 percent against the Giants.
Barry Church got a new deal out of three starts at strong safety. He signed a four-year extension worth $12.4 million, including $3.9 million guaranteed, despite tearing his Achilles' tendon against the Bucs in Week 3. His replacement, Danny McCray, now gets his chance to prove he's worth a new deal.
McCray, who is in the final year of a three-year deal with a base of $490,000 this season, has started the past four games. He has 21 tackles and two passes defensed in those four games, while giving up eight catches for 126 yards and no touchdowns, according to STATS, Inc.
"He’s done a good job, and I think he has a lot of those same traits that Barry Church has," Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. "That special teams mentality that continues to grow. He’s shown us he can play on defense both as a run defender and I think he’s shown us week in and week out that he can be a very competent pass defender as well. So it’s good to see him play and grow over the course of the reps he’s been getting."
McCray played 57 of 60 defensive plays in Sunday's loss to the Giants. He also played 18 special teams plays. That was the hardest part for McCray in getting used to starting. The Cowboys have reduced his special teams role from four units to two, even though he is their best special teams player.
"I am more comfortable [on defense] than the start," McCray said. "Game by game, it’s getting there. I'm a little bit more relaxed, kind of getting a little more feel game by game."
Inside linebacker Sean Lee was expected to be irreplaceable in the Cowboys defense. But so far, so good for the Cowboys.
It took a team effort at inside linebacker, but Dallas limited the Giants to 293 total yards, including 192 passing yards by Eli Manning.
"It’s an outstanding offense that the Giants have and for the them to be put in some difficult situations a number of different times early on in that ball game and get stops, that was really impressive," Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said of his inside linebackers. "The intensity was outstanding and just the overall execution, defending the run and defending the weapons they have outside was just really, really good throughout that ball game."
Lee tore the plantar plate in his right foot as well as the medial and lateral ligaments in his big toe against the Panthers on Oct. 21. He had surgery Tuesday and will require three to four months of rehab.
Lee remains the team's leading tackler with 77 stops. Outside linebacker Anthony Spencer led the team in tackles against the Giants with eight, while three players had seven each.
Bruce Carter took over Lee's play-calling duties and played all 60 plays against the Giants. He had seven tackles. Dan Connor started in Lee's spot, but he played only 10 plays before going out with a neck injury. Orie Lemon, who had played only two defensive plays in his career before Sunday, played 23 plays against the Giants, with newly signed Ernie Sims playing 10.
Jason Witten ranks third among tight ends in career receptions with 747. He is third in yards with 8,396. Only Tony Gonzalez, who Witten and the Cowboys will see Sunday in Atlanta, and Hall of Famer Shannon Sharpe have more than Witten in those categories.
Witten, a seven-time Pro Bowler, still has more years left in his career. He is only 30. But coach Jason Garrett said Witten already has done enough to be a future Hall of Famer.
"Oftentimes it’s about the numbers, so if you look at the numbers to say that you’re one of the one, two or three tight ends who has caught the most balls in this league, I think that’s where the conversation starts for a lot of people who vote on this stuff," Garrett said Wednesday. "But then, if anybody has followed our football team and followed the NFL for the last decade, you know what this guy is all about. He’s a rare, rare guy. We don’t want to get into Hall of Fame conversations when we’re getting ready for a game on Sunday against the Falcons, but you asked the question. I just think he’s a special guy. I think his production speaks for itself and the way he goes about his business is really, really exceptional."
Only eight modern-era tight ends are in the Hall of Fame. Sharpe was the last inductee at the position.
Cowboys coach Jason Garrett oversees a team that ranks next-to-last in the NFL in turnover margin (minus-11). Quarterback Tony Romo has been responsible for 15 of the team’s 19 turnovers, including 13 interceptions in seven games. Romo threw only 10 interceptions in 16 games last season.
Garrett said Dallas (3-4) works daily on ball-security drills and is not a sloppy team during closed practice sessions.
“I would say we’re practicing well on them. The attention in practices is very good,” Garrett said. “We’ve just got to make sure we take it to the game.”
Other than Romo (13 interceptions, 2 lost fumbles), the list of Cowboys who have lost fumbles includes Felix Jones (2), Miles Austin (1) and Dez Bryant (1).