Camp Cowboys Top 10 Observations: Day 1
Thursday is the first day of two-a-days. Who knows, we might even see pads.
10. So much for the new-and-improved-and-tougher Wade Phillips. The Cowboys worked out for two hours in shorts and jerseys and helmets. After the leisurely practice, Phillips put them through conditioning drills - consisting of two sprints across the width of the field. The coach - who has in the past bristled at "Camp Cupcake" - again plans no tackling during camp. "There's no reason to tackle our own guys," Phillips said moments ago at The Alamodome. "During the season we don't play the Dallas Cowboys." Maybe it's not fair, but I have visions of safety Ken Hamlin missing open-field tackles on two Ravens running backs for 80-yard touchdown runs to close Texas Stadium.
9. 16 minutes. That's how long it took before Rowdy showed up on his 4-wheeler and ruined training camp.
8. Not sure when it airs in Dallas, but Entertainment Tonight is planning a Tony Romo/Jessica Simpson break-up feature tonight. Only reason I mention it is because the producers called to ask permission to run this Sportatorium photo from last month.
7. Though he's a looongshot to make the team, free-agent cornerback Michael Hawkins had the day's highlights with an interception of Jon Kitna and a deflected pass of an underthrown deep ball by Tony Romo that also resulted in an interception. Backup tight end Rodney Hannah - fighting rookie John Phillips for a roster spot - had two ugly drops.
6. Looked like about 7,500 in the joint this afternoon. City officials say 27,000 attended last night's kickoff concert. I guess we're supposed to be impressed, but we all know that the open workout at Cowboys Stadium next month will draw twice that many.
5. Since y'all seriously want me to keep up with reality-show winner Jesse Holley, here goes: Though he didn't get any repititions in 7-on-7 drills, he didn't look out of place today. In fact, I mistook him once for Isaiah Stanback. "Why not?" Holley said when I asked him if he could actually make this team. "If I don't believe I have a chance I should've stayed in North Carolina. I think I belong here." Holley said teammates like Patrick Crayton have been welcoming, but the fact that he's rooming with no-name receiver Willie Reid reiterates his astronomical odds. Says Phillips of Holley: "From what I saw he went through as grueling a process as you can have. I have a lot of respect for what he went through just to get here."
4. New special teams coach Joe DeCamillis barked out signals without a bull horn, but he's still in a neck brace and unable to turn his head or sleep in anything but a chair. "I won't talk about the accident, let's move on," said DeCamillis, who broke his back in the May 2 collapse of the team's indoor practice facility. "I'm not comfortable and it's a struggle, but it's safe to say I'm happy to be at training camp. One of the few people really happy to be here." DeCamillis is scheduled to have the bulky brace removed Aug. 10. Director of college scouting Chris Hall, also injured in the accident, is getting back the use of his right arm, but his right hand remains numb.
3. Enough already with the Michael Vick clamoring. Owner Jerry Jones says "no." Again. "I like where we are at quarterback," Jones said when asked about Vick. "I really like where we are. I'm not interested in moving from there."
2. With Romo not talking (see below), Terrell Owens in Buffalo and Pacman Jones out of football, there's no buzz at camp this year. There wasn't, that is, until the guy with the Affliction T-shirt and sunglasses showed up. When he wasn't hugging Holley and mugging for the cameras, Michael Irvin was making suggestions for those who have lost faith in the current quarterback. "Maybe we should get Drew Bledsoe out here for a week," Irvin said, "so you jokers can fall back in love with Tony."
1. Romo's adept at escaping pressure, but shame on him for his disappearing act today. It's an unwritten rule of NFL training camps that the star players indulge the media on Day 1. Romo's done it every year, except today. After practice a huge throng gathered around Romo at mid-field. Who would ask about what first? Jessica? Golf? T.O.? His new girlfriend? None of the above, because after surveying the throng Romo declined to talk, instead jogging away to sign autographs. Not sure exactly what it says about Romo's leadership skills, but it's hard to twist it into a positive. Romo, by the way, was very mediocre his first practice. He underthrew two deep balls, missed Jason Witten on an out route and threw a good two feet behind Crayton on a slant.