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Tuesday, March 6, 2012
Jason Garrett talks about Keith Brooking

By Calvin Watkins

Monday night after a charity event at Highland Park High School, Cowboys coach Jason Garrett spent about 20 minutes meeting with the media about a variety of subjects.

One topic that came up was the status of veteran inside linebacker Keith Brooking and whether he will return.

The Cowboys held a brief discussion with Brooking's agent, Pat Dye, about him returning. Brooking called the talk about him returning in 2012 "speculative at this time."

So what about Garrett?

"We are certainly pleased [about] what Brooking has done for our football team since he's been here," Garrett said. "But we have a lot of decisions we have to make. We don’t have to make those specific decisions right now. As we go forward in the offseason, we’ll figure out how the rest of our team fits together, guys under contract and the free agents that were on our team last year. We'll just go through the process."

Brooking got reduced snaps last season because of the emergence of Sean Lee, and defensive coordinator Rob Ryan wanted to split snaps between Bradie James and Brooking.

Brooking turns 37 in October and there are questions about how effective he can still be. One would think the Cowboys want to start Bruce Carter alongside Lee at inside linebacker and give Orie Lemon a chance to make the team in 2012. Lemon spent 2011 on the practice squad. There's also a chance the Cowboys might draft an inside linebacker or sign one in free agency.

"We've talked a lot about it and a lot of different decisions have to be made along the way, and we’ll see how the pieces to the puzzle fit together," Garrett said. "I have great admiration for Keith Brooking though."