Monday, May 9, 2011
Tony Romo reaches out to draft picks
By Todd Archer
McKINNEY, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys will kick off their second week of full-team workouts this week and quarterback Tony Romo said he has been in contact with some of the team's draft picks about taking part in the sessions.
First rounder Tyron Smith tweeted last week he would be heading to Dallas for the workouts. Running back DeMarco Murray, wide receiver Dwayne Harris and fullback Shaun Chapas all expressed interest in working out with their new teammates. Cornerback Josh Thomas, a fifth-round pick, is a Dallas native.
"I've talked to one or two guys and I know they are making arrangements as we speak," Romo said.
Roughly 40 players showed up to workouts last week.
"I don't want to say I expect more," Romo said. "I would say that's a great number for starting. We weren't sure what the number was going to be. I know I stressed the importance to everybody, to say the least. I'd say it was just a point we needed to make it important. The guys know that. The guys are committed. Do I hope we get 50 there? Absolutely. We're in contact with a couple of guys who have never been."
As he did last week, Romo did not want to divulge where and when the workouts were occurring. Nor would he discuss if players have taken out insurance to cover themselves in case of an injury. He said they do have athletic trainers on hand that are not affiliated with the Cowboys.
"It just doesn't benefit us for you guys in any way to be going out there," Romo said. "If we run a certain route and the defense busts on a play and Jason Witten runs up the middle of the field and looks like someone didn't cover, then someone is to blame. The reality is we're learning a system. We're running and we're competing, but we don't need that from outside influences right now. It just needs to be about us and improvement. I think sometimes when you bring media or people in to talk about it ... now all of a sudden, guys are doing things they don't need to be doing."
The sessions aren't just guys hanging out or throwing balls around. They are highly structured, with Romo watching the clock and blowing a whistle at the end of each drill so everyone knows to move on to the next one. There are walkthrough periods and specific plays to be worked on each day.
"It's literally like we're doing the same things we'd be doing at an OTA -- the tempo and everything," Romo said Monday. "I've been around it long enough that I have plenty of schedules laying around my house that I've been able to use for the time frame. We're at stretch for seven minutes. Bam, you go right into 'pat and go.' We move right into 'move the ball.' And guys are going. You jump in and, boom, you're in the next play. We're pushing it. ... I can't imagine other teams going quite to the extent of the team practices, and that's exciting to us."
The Cowboys have a new defensive coordinator in Rob Ryan. While they'll still use a 3-4 front, his playbook is different from the one Wade Phillips left behind. The terminology is different, too, which is part of what players are learning.
Romo said there are times when the defense will stop and discuss a particular play to make sure everyone understands what to do. He said such breaks are easier to do at this kind of informal workout.
That level of detail shows the Cowboys aren't getting together strictly for bonding. Romo said they could go bowling if that was their aim.
"Personally I think it's about sharpening skills and getting better," he said. "I think the bonding stuff comes with doing that."
Dez Bryant is among those who've attended. With no trainers there to monitor his recovery from a broken ankle, Romo said teammates are making sure Bryant is careful.
"He's competitive so he wants to be involved," Romo said. "If he gets tight or sore he goes off to the side and jogs. But when it feels good, he moves through some drills. But we're not going to throw him into the fray yet."
Todd Archer covers the Cowboys for ESPNDallas.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.