Now that the Cowboys preseason schedule has been announced, the big question is how will it affect the team's training camp practices in California.
The Cowboys open the preseason with a game at the San Diego Chargers during the dates of Aug. 7-10. The final dates and times of the first three preseason games have yet to be announced.
This game against the Chargers is in keeping with the tradition of playing the early preseason games on West Coast to accommodate the team's training camp practices in Oxnard, Calif.
The Cowboys usually have their first two preseason games out west while they are there for training camp and then have the last two at home at AT&T Stadium.
But AT&T Stadium threw the Cowboys a curve a few months ago when the contracted the One Direction concert during the time usually slated for the third preseason game.
So the Cowboys will return to Texas for the second preseason game against Baltimore the weekend of Aug. 14-18.
At issue is whether the Cowboys return to Oxnard for training camp after the Ravens game or stay here and finish camp at the team's Valley Ranch training facility.
The Cowboys have yet to release their training camp schedule but odds are that they will have a short camp in Oxnard and stay here after the Ravens game because the third preseason game is at Miami the weekend of Aug. 21-24.
Per a source, the Cowboys had planned to go back to oxnard after the Ravens game but that was before Wednesday's schedule release and the news that they would be playing at Miami in week 3.
The Cowboys are officially re-thinking those plans now.
It doesn't make financial nor logistical sense to fly from California to Miami.
The Cowboys will then close out the preseason at home against the Denver Broncos on Aug. 28. It will feature the return of defensive DeMarcus Ware to AT&T Stadium for the first time since being released by the Cowboys in March and signing a three-year/$30 million contract with Denver.
It's unlikely Ware will play in the fourth and final preseason game because its too close the season opener. But it will give Cowboys fans a chance to show him love and appreciation for time with the team.
Jason Witten, who took in the Final Four with Tony Romo on Saturday night, said Romo is “right on track to come back better than ever, I assume.”
Witten said Romo is moving and recovering well from back surgery in December, which left him unable to play in the Week 17 game against Philadelphia for the NFC East championship.
“Seems like he’s excited to get back and get healthy,” Witten said Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway, where he was scheduled to drive the pace car for the start of the Duck Commander 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup race. “And I think all of us are eager to get going. I can’t speak for him, but I think everything’s on track. We’re excited for the offseason. We have a lot to prove. We know exactly what we have to do.”
Witten and Romo watched the Final Four games from a suite at AT&T Stadium.
“He was pulling for Wisconsin pretty hard, being from there,” Witten said. “What a game, man. You could tell a lot of people in his family were cheering for Wisconsin.”
Witten’s appearance at TMS is part of a campaign with the March of Dimes and driver Denny Hamlin.
“It’s pretty special,” Witten said. “Obviously, playing a role in the community is huge. What the No. 11 car is doing with the March of Dimes is something I completely support. I think it’s great. A few years back, I had the opportunity to be a part of it. What FedEx and Denny are trying to do, I think it’s great. It’s great to make a difference like that.”
Witten was cleared by NASCAR to drive the pace car after a training session with former racer Brett Bodine.
“Just got a little tutorial this morning,” Witten said. “Talked about the rain, unfortunately. But I’m excited. Obviously, I’m a race fan. It’s pretty exciting to see those guys get started. Hopefully I don’t mess it up and keep it going on the track.”
The pace car is a Chevy SS.
“It was a little tight for me, getting in there,” he said.
Witten said he couldn’t help but grow up a race fan near Bristol, Tenn., one of NASCAR’s famed tracks.
“You have a competitive nature, to find that edge, all the tricks in the trade that go into making you elite, and that’s what these guys are,” he said. “I respect that from them. I know a few of them. Just appreciate how much they put into it. Just excited to be part of this day. Hopefully we get a good race.”
Jason Witten’s going to get behind the wheel Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway.
He’s not going to race, but he’s going to do the next best thing – drive the pace car for the green flag at the Duck Commander 500.
“I’m honored to be asked to drive the pace car,” the Cowboys veteran tight end said in a statement provided by TMS. “I’ll be in town to cheer on Denny Hamlin and the No. 11 FedEx team and raise awareness for their special March of Dimes paint scheme, and it will be a cool experience to get behind the wheel before the drop of the green flag.”
Witten is the first Cowboys player to drive the pace car at TMS. Only one other DFW pro athlete has driven the pace car at TMS: C.J. Wilson did it after the Rangers’ World Series appearance in 2011. Former Stars great Mike Madano was asked in 2010, but his chance was rained out.
Witten can’t just hop in the car, however.
He’ll get a track orientation at 9 a.m., and he’ll drive under the guidance of former NASCAR driver Brett Bodine.
The pace car is a Chevy SS, and it will lead the field to green for the start of the race. Green flag time is 2 p.m. Sunday.