It was a simple enough question to DeMarcus Ware considering the changes the Cowboys made on defense, starting the hiring of 73-year old Monte Kiffin to replace Rob Ryan as defensive coordinator.
"When you have guy that comes in the age sometimes doesn't matter its the rebirth of having new guys, a new team and teaching you philosophy," Ware said. "With him coming in and teaching us a different deal, it fees like he has a new birth. So the age is not a problem. It's us learning what we need to do and doing it effectively."
Basically, for Ware, it's not about Kiffin it's about him and rest of his teammates picking up the new defense and getting it down. Kiffin and new defensive tackle coach Rod Marinelli have nothing to prove as they already have skins on the wall from their manyyears in the league and their success together in leading the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to a Super Bowl title in 2002.
"They are really really great coaches and have the heritage of playing the Tampa Two, playing different coverages, having great pass rush and guys that get pressure and get turnovers," Ware said. "That's what this defensive is predicated on. We had 16 turnovers last year and each team they have in the past have consistently gotten 35 to 40 turnovers. We are trying to get that."
Ware said he's excited about the new defense because its simple and it allows the players to be more aggressive. He said the Cowboys are already seeing a difference in practices now.
"I'm real excited with the way that we are playing," Ware said. "Guy aren't thinking so much. They aren't a lot of mistakes. When we go through each day there is a chart we go through on how many mistakes we made, how many turnovers, how many missed plays. There aren't a lot of missed plays and lot of errors. we are making more plays and getting more turnovers. I think that is what we needed."
It also may be what Ware needed after an injury-plagued season of a year ago when only 2.5 of his 11.5 sacks came in the last eight games of the season.
The new defense taking the thinking about of the equation for Ware as gets to do what he does best all the time: rush the quarterback.
Ware, who will be 31 when the season starts, said it's a rejuvenating proposition for an aging pass rusher as he moves from linebacker in the 3-4 to defensive end.
"I think so," Ware said. "I just think the terminology of the mind in the 3-4 you had to think a lot. Now I don't have to think about who I have to cover. It's about being aggressive and getting to the quarterback. That makes more you effective, give you more opportunities."
So getting more opportunities and being more effective should result in Ware making another run at the NFL single season sack record of 22.5 and regaining the title of the league's best pass rusher from San Francisco's Aldon Smith and Denver's Von Miller. Ware had 20 in 2008 and 19.5 in 2011. He has also won two single season sack titles.
"I don't know about that, it should just help me be more effective and get to the quarterback," Ware said with a smile and wink.
Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Ware will miss mini camp next week as he continues to rehab from off season shoulder surgery.
Ware did not participate in any of the team's OTA workouts the past three weeks. But the seven-time Pro Bowler said he should be good to go when the Cowboys report to training camp in July.
"I'm still not clear yet from the physicians," Ware said Thursday. "I feel good. But I'm not 100 percent. I still got a ocuple of months to recover and be ready for camp. I will be good by then."
Ware doesn't know if he will be 100 percent clear to start camp but he believes he will good enough to go that he won't be put on the physically unable to perform list when camp opens.
"I might be limited but I will be ready for camp," Ware said.
Ware would like to be out there with his teammates learning the new defense but said he hasn't missed much because Monte Kiffin's 4-3 scheme is much simpler than the 3-4 they had under the fired Rob Ryan. Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said Ware has done his part to stay involved despite not being on the field.
"I think he's done a great job," Garrett said. "We've had a number of guys coming off surgery in the offseason. We're very cautious with those players. We ask them to do what they can do so DeMarcus and a number of the other guys have been involved in individual periods. We kept them out of competitive situations. He responded well. He's working hard in his rehab and his treatment and we fully expect him to be ready to go in camp."
Ware, who is also moving from linebacker to defensive end, said its an easier transition then when he had to learn Ryan's 3-4 scheme.
"You go to the 3-4 and it's a lot of terminology," Ware said. "You got to learn more about offenses and dropping. You got to learn the rush coverage. Now I'm playing defensive end there is only one thing I have to do and that's pass rush and how the offense is going to attack us so the half the weight of learning stuff is gone. It's more technique stuff than anything."
The Cowboys are stocked at tight end, with six following the
addition of Dante Rosario.
But don’t look for Jason Witten’s workload to change anytime
soon. He is still the lead dog at tight end for the Cowboys, their most
versatile player at the position, coach Jason Garrett pretty much said this
“If you watch how we’ve used Witt over the years, we’ve asked him
to do a lot of things,” Garrett said. “He’s capable of doing a lot of things. He’s
been a ‘Y’ tight end for us, meaning he’s had his hand on the ground, blocking
as a typical true tight end. He’s been an ‘F’ tight end on the front side and
the back side as a true tight end guy. As a receiver, he’s been a receiver out
of the backfield, split out as a receiver.
“So he’s been a lot of different things for us. And obviously, he’s
our featured guy at that position.”
Garrett was answering a question about how he envisioned Witten’s role evolving
with the addition of perhaps a fourth tight end to the roster.
“We’re going to play him,” Garrett said coyly.
There were laughs in the news conference.
“He’s going to play a lot. He’s a good player,” Garrett said.
For the second year in a row, the Cowboys are closing OTAs with “Dallas
Cowboys U,” a football camp for 160 under-served high school athletes from North Texas.
After they finish their last practice on Thursday morning, the
Cowboys players and coaches will provide instruction and coaching to the
campers, then break them up into teams captained by eight players – Tony Romo,
Brandon Carr, Jay Ratliff, DeMarcus Ware, Jason Witten, Sean Lee, Miles Austin
and Doug Free – for a 7-on-7 tournament.
The remaining Cowboys players will be divvied up among the teams
as assistant coaches. Last year, Witten’s
team beat Free’s team for the camp championship.
“We hope that the camp will provide an impactful experience for
deserving student-athletes who will remember the event for years to come,” Cowboys
coach Jason Garrett said in a statement provided by the Cowboys. “This camp
offers a unique opportunity for our players and coaches to make a meaningful
difference in the lives of these young men.”
After the 7-on-7 action, Garrett, the players and owner Jerry
Jones are scheduled to talk to the young athletes about life skills and also
provide a presentation from the Taylor Hooton Foundation, which raises
awareness about the dangers of steroids and performance-enhancing drugs.
The campers were selected with help from the National Football
Foundation. Garrett partners with the NFF to select participants for a similar
camp he hosts each year at Princeton.
The Cowboys signed safety Eric Frampton on Wednesday. To make room for Frampton, Dallas waived/injured defensive tackle Robert Callaway.
Frampton appeared in 13 games with two starts last season for the Cowboys. For his career, he has played 89 games, including two starts, and recorded 25 tackles, two tackles for loss, three pass breakups and one forced fumble on defense, while adding 112 tackles on special teams.
The team's safety positions are up for grabs. Barry Church, who is returning from the Achilles' he tore in Week 3 last season, has been running first team in the Cowboys' OTAs. Will Allen, signed in the off-season, and Matt Johnson, a fourth-round pick in 2012 who missed his rookie season with hamstring and back injuries, each have had first-team snaps at the other safety position. The Cowboys used a third-round pick on J.J. Wilcox, who also is expected to contend for playing time.
It doesn’t look like quarterback Tony Romo will be available for
mini-camp next week.
Owner Jerry Jones said “probably unlikely” when asked Tuesday about
Romo’s status for the mandatory practices.
“I don’t know. We’re probably going to be real conservative
there, and it’s probably unlikely,” he said. “I know I said probably unlikely,
but it’s still probably unlikely that he’ll be in minicamp.”
Romo has not practiced in the OTA sessions because he is
recovering from surgery to remove a cyst in his back. When the Cowboys
announced he would not take part in OTAs, they said it was possible he could
work in the minicamp.
Jones said Romo is recovering as expected. The surgery was in
April. The Cowboys have not said exactly when.
“He’s coming along great,” Jones said. “He’s going to be ready to
go and have his strength and conditioning in great shape. And of course, he’s
spending all kinds of time looking at tape and doing the kinds of things that
he wants to be doing to get ready for the season.”
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said he is not sensitive about the
Cowboys’ draft board being discovered.
The draft is over, right?
“I’m a little hard-pressed to see where the issue is at all after
the draft is over,” he told reporters Tuesday at Valley Ranch. “We don’t put
anything up there that’s particularly sensitive. Those are the opinions and the
work of our scouts. The fact that there might have been a player up there a
round earlier or a round later than it is on a lot of other people’s boards or
opinion doesn’t impact us.”
The web site BloggingTheBoys.com last week compiled the board
after examining photos from the Cowboys draft room.
“I don’t see the negative aspect of that information,” Jones
said. “We won’t make it a practice of publishing it, but still, I don’t think
it’s an important detail.”
Cowboys coach Jason Garrett was tight-lipped.
“I didn’t follow that story very closely,” he said. “Obviously we
have a draft process that we believe in. A draft board is part of that process.
A lot of discussions are a part of that process, too – the interpretation of
that draft board, and then we make our best decision. So any comment beyond
that is not something I want to get into.”
Here is the Cowboys’ daily public schedule at training camp,
released today (Central time; Pacific time is two hours earlier). The practices
are at the Marriott Residence Inn, 2101
W. Vineyard Ave., in Oxnard, Calif.
Sunday, July 21, practice, 6 p.m. Central (4 p.m. Pacific).
Monday, July 22, practice, 6 p.m.
Tuesday, July 23, practice, 6 p.m.
Wednesday, July 24, practice, 6 p.m.
Thursday, July 25, no practice
Friday, July 26, practice, 6 p.m.
Saturday, July 27, practice, 4:30 p.m.
Sunday, July 28, practice, 6 p.m.
Monday, July 29, practice, 6 p.m.
Tuesday, July 30, practice, 6 p.m.
Wednesday, July 31, no practice
Thursday, Aug. 1, practice, 6 p.m.
Friday, Aug. 2, practice, 7:15 p.m.
Saturday, Aug. 3, travel to Canton,
Sunday, Aug. 4, Hall of Fame Game vs. Miami, 7 p.m.
Monday, Aug. 5, no practice
Tuesday, Aug. 6, practice, 6 p.m.
Wednesday, Aug. 7, practice, 6 p.m.
Thursday, Aug. 8, travel to Oakland
Friday, Aug. 9, preseason game at Oakland, 9 p.m.
Saturday, Aug. 10, no practice
Sunday, Aug. 11, practice, 7:15 p.m.
Monday, Aug. 12, practice, 6 p.m.
Tuesday, Aug. 13, practice, 6 p.m.
Wednesday, Aug. 14, practice, 6 p.m.
Thursday, Aug. 15, practice, 7:15 p.m.
Friday, Aug. 16, break camp, travel to Phoenix
Saturday, Aug. 17, preseason game at Arizona, 3:30 p.m.
Doug Free took a pay cut to stay with the Cowboys, but he said, “I
think both sides got what they wanted out of it.”
The veteran lineman accepted a two-year deal worth half his
former salary when he re-signed with the Cowboys last month. But he said he is
happy and striving to improve.
“I’m happy, yeah,” he told reporters Tuesday after an OTA
practice at Valley Ranch. “Got to be. Got to stay positive and keep working
hard. ... I don’t want to look at the business part and the money part. I just
like playing football, and that’s what I like to do.”
Free said he expects competition for his job at right tackle
again this year, and he credited it for helping him improve late last season
when he split snaps with Jermey Parnell.
“I think any time you get challenged by something, one way or
another, you’re either going to get stronger and play better or get weaker and
play worse,” he said. “I think last year, the competition definitely improved
my game and kind of helped me focus.”
Offensive line coach Bill Callahan said he and Free have worked
on improving the angles he takes in pass protection and in studying opponents
“We’ve studied a great deal of rushers on film and what they’ve
done and the type of moves they’ve given to him and that he’s seen,” Callahan
said. “So we’ve done a considerable study of all the repertoire of things that
have broken down his game. We’ve also shown him some of the highlights and some
of the positives that he’s done, too, cause he’s done a lot of great things.
“Obviously there’s some mistakes that we’re working hard to
improve. But he does have talent. He’s a good foot athlete. He’s a smart guy.
He’s a strong guy. If we can just minimize some of those errors and help him
out a little bit better as a coaching staff, I think we’ll be a better
offensive unit all the way around.”