The Dallas Cowboys left the cool, calming climes of the California coast and flew into the furnace that is Phoenix this time of year.
I'm done with the alliteration. I promise.
Anyway, it's time to get caught up on the news about your Cowboys before the game. Oh, and don't forget to check out Cowboys @ Cardinals: 5 Questions With Revenge Of The Birds - Blogging The Boys to get the opposing view of the matchup.
Many of us are in a state of near depression over the ongoing saga of the injured Dallas guards, but one guy who depends on them heavily doesn't seem worried at all.
"The sky's the limit," said Murray, who cited the linemen's ability to move laterally as an asset he especially appreciated. "These guys are working hard. I'm very, very proud of the guys we've got, the five starters and the guys behind them.
"I wouldn't want to be behind any other line. I love these guys. I've got a lot of respect for these guys. They're going to have a great year for us."
It sounds like the 15 to 20 range is what we can expect for most of the starters in the game.
It's called supporting your brother, I believe.
The process continues . . .
"The messages don't change a whole lot," Garrett said. "It's the same kind of message about trying to be your best and working hard each and every day. I thought we had a really good camp. Guys came in in shape, ready to go, worked hard. I thought it was very competitive, as competitive a training camp as I've been around. Really a tribute to the players and the approach they've taken. We try to put them in those situations, but they have to respond to those situations."
. . . and the message is received.
"I think our intensity level since Day 1 was sky-high, and we came out and performed the best of our ability," Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant said. "We're very excited about the hard work we've put in, and we're looking ft forward to going out and expressing our skills.
"...Don't leave that training camp mentality. We've still got a lot of work to do."
I think he might want to extend that back a bit further. JMO.
"First of all, we're a better team personnel-wise than we were at this time last year or at any time in the last two years," Jones told the Elf & Slater show on 105.3 The Fan [KRLD-FM]. "I'm excited about what we've been able to accomplish in training camp and what we've done to change our defense. I'm excited that we got eight new coaches on our coaching staff, and how they're working together, which is critical.
"Probably most of all, I'm excited about Jason Garrett. Not that it's different, but you can just see him, his command, you can see his fingerprints all over this team."
Watkins' evaluation of risers and fallers from camp. I have to concur with him on this:
Anthony Armstrong: The Cowboys are expected to keep five wide receivers but Armstrong is making a case for six. The sixth receiver has to play special teams -- something he's capable of doing -- and, if needed, catch some passes, which Armstrong has done consistently. He's on the bubble right now and the next three preseason games will determine his fate.
He really is talking about how the team is still trying to get the O line sorted out for the quarterback, but does give a nice endorsement for the man he opened up the checkbook for.
"Nobody's more aware of the need to give our team the confidence and give [Tony] Romo the confidence that is needed to go where we want to go," Jones said. "Now, the other thing that is really helping us, though, is that we're doing a lot of play-action passing and that really alleviates some of the pressure on your offensive line. We're playing with more tight ends. That gives you more blockers up there. So a combination of things here I think are going to give us better protection.
"I know first hand that Tony's more comfortable and more confident than he was this time last year. We're better than we were this time last year, and have a chance to get better than where we are today."
I really am not all that fond of the NFL expanding into Europe. The NFL, however, does not give a rat's hiney about my opinion. Meanwhile, Dallas has some issues involved with the current games being played in London.
Jones would like the Cowboys to be involved, but it will not be at the expense of a game at AT&T Stadium, which is the rub when it comes to the Cowboys playing a game overseas. Because they are a virtual guaranteed sellout as a road team, the opponents do not want to give up that home date.
I'll only remark that this is an obvious case of pixel envy.
There is one very good thing about this - it's not Dez.
The Cowboys' main punt returner is Dwayne Harris, who averaged 16.1 yards a return last season. Yet, Dallas special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia said he's open to using any player who can return punts if they can help the team.
Haters may want to skip this.
And the stats overwhelmingly suggest that Romo is clutch when the stakes are high. That might seem ridiculous given his reputation, but Romo actually has the highest fourth quarter passer rating of any quarterback in the NFL since 2000. Higher than Tom Brady. Higher than Peyton Manning. Higher than Drew Brees. Higher than Aaron Rodgers. On top of that, Romo has a higher passer rating in December and January than he does in the earlier months. That doesn't fit well with what we "know" about Romo late in the season, does it?
You may want to bookmark Football Outsiders (if you haven't already). Writer Ben Muth is planning on following the Cowboys offensive line, along with those of the Philadelphia Eagles and Cincinnati Bengals, and analyzing their performance through the season.
I'm following the Cowboys because I just happen to live in Dallas at the moment and I enjoy writing about the teams I listen to talk radio hosts and callers talk about. . . .The good news is that there are plenty of reasons to focus on the Cowboys offensive line that go beyond my current mailing address. They drafted an offensive lineman in the first round, Wisconsin center Travis Frederick, and everyone thought it was a reach at the time. But Frederick is getting strong reviews in the preseason. The Cowboys also have third-year left tackle Tyron Smith, who is as physically gifted as any lineman in the NFL.
Gonna hit the field at 8:15 a.m., local time.
"We should be off the field by 10:30 (a.m.) and that should make it 8-10 degrees cooler than practicing later in the day," coach Jason Garrett said. "We just think that's a good thing. That's the advantages of being out here. It's going to be hot enough in Texas. We've got to get acclimated to that. That's where we're going to have practice once the season starts. For the next week or so we might continue to practice in the morning and see how that goes over. The contents, the meetings, the walkthroughs -- that stuff will happen afterward. Hopefully it'll be a schedule that works for us."
And the results were negative. I just wanted to scare you.
You know, there is a certain thing I have foregone here for the sake of the team. And that one thing involving domesticated felines still holds true. Still, I am going to be watching for things like an Alex Tanney to Anthony Armstrong connection.
Speaking of which, Tanney makes this list of players who stood out in camp.
Nick (Eatman) - Sticking with the theme of this category, it has to be
Alex Tanney. One day at practice, he literally caught our eyes with his arm strength and accuracy. Since then, his star has faded somewhat but he's going to play a lot more in this game. I still think practice squad will be his destination.
And finally, here is a chance for all the fans in and around Dallas to get a look in person at the team.
It's the annual Silver and Blue Debut and it will happen on Thursday, August 22nd at AT&T Stadium.
The practice is free and open to the public beginning at 5:30 p.m. You will have to ante up $10 for parking, though.