The defensive tackle is blunt about his intentions when he states that the move to Dallas will give him the best opportunity to become a Super Bowl champion in the near future and he goes on to offer some other insights that might be a surprise to some. Given Chip Kelly's hurry up approach to football, I found this tidbit to be a revelation.
"A lot more aggressive, a lot more impact in our walkthroughs, and [they] expect us to be in better condition than we were in Philadelphia. Coach Garrett, Coach Marinelli, all the coaches around here, have very high expectations for us right now going into the OTAs and into the minicamp. So are the training camp expectations. It's definitely different in that aspect as far as Philadelphia. But I like it. I love it."
But Thornton's biggest surprise in Dallas may have been the quality of his new defensive line teammates.
"I didn't know they were this athletic," Thornton said. "Tyrone Crawford, Jack Crawford, DeMarcus Lawrence, David Irving, Randy Gregory, Terrell McClain, Ryan Russell, like everybody is athletic.
"It's similar to what we had in Philadelphia. I study offensive linemen and I never studied the [defensive line] group before I came here. Just to come here and see how athletic these guys are, very nimble guys to be able to move at a bigger weight. I'm just glad to be a part of the group."
ESPNs Mike Sando called ignoring the weakness in the pass rush the boldest move of the Cowboys off-season, and he is right. Sando did however point out that it could be the right move to make, depending on how things play out for the team. That rests primarily on the shoulder pads of first round selection Ezekiel Elliot. Like all off-season moves, the Dallas gamble is a wait and see proposition.
"The Cowboys might have made the right move when they used the fourth overall choice in the draft for Ezekiel Elliott, who has the potential to be a dynamic threat at running back," Sando said. "The pick prevented them from using a top-five selection to address one of the NFL's weakest pass-rush rotations, but if Elliott's addition extends Tony Romo's career, this bold move could still pay off for Dallas."
With a rookie first round draft selection on the roster and another veteran running back in the mix Alfred Morris was in a position where he was going to have to fight for a roster slot with the Cowboys. That situation might have changed with the injury to Darren McFadden, but it will not change how the former Redskins ball carrier approaches his shot at becoming a Dallas runner.
"You never want anyone to get hurt; I haven't thought about it as an opportunity because I thought the coaches did a good job splitting our reps and giving everybody an opportunity to showcase what they can do," Morris said. "With him gone, it doesn't change much honestly. What it does change is that we don't have our leader in the room -- that savvy vet that's been doing it for quite some time."
Swaim seemed like an afterthought when Dallas drafted him last year. With three tight ends on the roster there was little need for another, but Dallas was very interested in the former Longhorn. This season, with one of those three other tight ends dealing with the effects of a ruptured Achilles tendon, Swaim finds himself with the opportunity to cash in and make an impact. He has a plan in place to help him make the most of the opportunity.
"There's always stuff that I'm working on and it's important not to try to do too much because there's so many things I want to improve that if I went out there to do everything at once I'd regress."
The second year player is going to need to take advantage of every opportunity; rookie Rico Gathers has impressed coaches with his athletic ability and will be battling for a chance to contribute as well.
"If Witten says something, I'll say something back, because it's Witten. You have to with Witten."
The wily veteran and the young second year player have an interesting discussion from time to time as Jones gets his opportunities to work against and learn from the best to ever play the position for the Cowboys. The competitive fire is there for both men, but so is the respect. Jones knows Jason Witten's legacy and the venerable tight end knows his role in developing the Dallas safety of the future.
"He's always teaching me a new technique or what I should do in a certain coverage or how I should disguise something for a defensive scheme. I'm just listening to him. Anything he says to me, I'm just absorbing it."