SOUTHLAKE, Texas – Jason Hatcher caused a little bit of a ruckus earlier in the offseason when he said on ESPN Dallas Radio’s “Ben and Skin Show” that he was not sure who the Cowboys' leaders were and that the team needed a more vocal leader.
Seven-time Pro Bowl tight end Jason Witten respectfully disagrees.
“I don’t want to speak for anybody but we’ve got plenty of leaders,” Witten said after an appearance at a Southlake Dunkin Donuts. “We’ve been in more situations where there’s been more players-only meetings and that. The bottom line is that we’ve got to go and play better and win ballgames and find a way to do that. I think you do that by sticking together. I think you do that when you have a strong group of six, eight, 10 guys, whatever it is. Jay Ratliff, DeMarcus Ware, Miles Austin, of course [Tony] Romo and you add young guys in there that are big-time players."
Romo’s decision to sit out next month’s U.S. Open local qualifier has been viewed by some as a sign of a more serious approach by the quarterback and the team.
“I don’t think anybody ever doubted his dedication, but I do think there’s a perception that goes along with that,” Witten said. “That’s never taken anything away from what he’s done on the football field. He’s the first one in. He’s the last one to leave. He’s been that way for a long time. I believe he puts us in position to be successful. He’s an elite quarterback but until he wins a championship and we do that, the critics are going to come. But the best thing about him is he’s so far past that that he knows he’s got one goal and he’s all in to do that.”
While the offseason program officially began Monday, a majority of the players had been working out at the Cowboys’ Valley Ranch facility for more than a month prior. Witten said the season-ending loss to the New York Giants has served as motivation, especially after seeing their NFC East rivals win their second Super Bowl in five years.
“You’ve got to be your best at key times,” Witten said. “You see the San Francisco-Giants game and it could’ve gone either way. The Ravens-New England game could’ve gone either way. You can’t say you’re close. You’ve got to go do it and prove it and make those plays in those key situations that allow you to win. We had too many games go the other way.”