How can Cowboys' offense gain continuity?

August, 16, 2012
8/16/12
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OXNARD, Calif. -- It’s been a rough go for the Cowboys’ offense in training camp.

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ESPNDallas.com's Todd Archer joins up from Oxnard with the latest news from Cowboys camp. Archer says there's a chance Jason Witten will play in the season opener against the Giants.

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Jason Witten might not play in the season opener because of a lacerated spleen. Miles Austin has not practiced in more than a week because of a hamstring injury. Starting center Phil Costa has a lower back strain. Guard Nate Livings has not practiced in more than a week because of a hamstring injury.

Cohesion on the offensive line has been slow, to the say the least, and the snaps have been interesting, to say the least. Dez Bryant was slowed briefly by a hamstring injury. The No. 3 receiver fight is still in the feeling out process, or, in other words, nobody has grabbed the spot.

We hear coaches talk about the importance of training camp because of the work necessary to get the timing right. The offensive line needs time to gel. The runners need to learn the blockers. The quarterbacks and receivers need time to get on the same page.

Oh, and the Cowboys have altered their running game this year with new coordinator/offensive line coach Bill Callahan.

And yet Jerry Jones continues to smile.

“Not at all. Not on offense,” the Cowboys owner and general manager said when asked if he's worried the offense will have enough time to get in sync before the Sept. 5 opener against the New York Giants. “I’m more concerned about sync on defense. We’ve got a lot of options to go. I feel good that we will have -- absent other injuries -- with what we’re dealing with right now in the offensive line, that we can handle that and get it in sync. Relative to what happens if you lose a player at any position, like if you lose Dez or last year we lost Miles, then we made up with it with more balls going to (Laurent) Robinson, more balls going to Witten. And you’ll have more balls going to the backs out of the backfield. That’s what’s great about the numbers. We’ve got numbers in the passing game that we can use when we lose one or a combination of players. Again, I’m not being cavalier about it and I’m not diminishing the value of Witten, but we’ve had games when Witten didn’t catch many balls.

“You have to be able to adjust and hopefully have enough flexibility and have enough options offensively so that when you get players hurt, you’ve got to have other ways to run your offense. And we do.”

Got all that?

Romo chooses to look at the day-to-day picture, not the big picture.

“I think our team is going to work and putting their head down right now and getting better and doing all of the little things,” Romo said. “We’re going to be judged by wins and losses in this football season. Right now, we just need to get better as individuals and collectively as a group. We’re not going to be graded on wins or losses yet. I’m not going to look into anything other than the fact of: ‘Is our team improving? Are guys getting better?’ That is the no. 1 job for everybody right now. They need to be doing that.”

But at some point, the Cowboys are going to need to get everybody back and everybody on the same page.

It just might not happen until Sept. 5.

Todd Archer

ESPN Dallas Cowboys reporter

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