Daily Archives: November 22nd, 2011

TUESDAY PRESS CONFERENCE: Jason Garrett | Bonus – DeMarcus Ware video

Jason Garrett Press Conference - The Boys Are Back - Press play

Jason Garrett Press Conference - The Boys Are Back - Press play

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Garrett Press Conference: Tuesday

Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett speaks to the media as his team continues to work towards the Miami Dolphins on Thursday.

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DeMarcus Ware: A Lot Of Opportunities

Dallas Cowboys linebacker DeMarcus Ware talks to the Miami media about playing in Rob Ryan’s defense.

THE ROAD TO VICTORY IN WASHINGTON DC: Dallas Cowboys journey, from start to finish (video)

The Trip: Dallas Cowboys win in Washington D.C.

Experience the Dallas Cowboys trip to D.C. from start to finish, as the team goes on the road and comes home with a crucial victory over the Washington Redskins.

Audio courtesy: Brad Sham, the voice of the Dallas Cowboys, broadcast on KRLD – Dallas/Ft. Worth – Flagship of the Dallas Cowboys Radio Network.

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NO LONGER A GIMME: Once 0-7, Miami Dolphins suddenly winning big

Dallas Cowboys vs. Miami Dolphins - Thanksgiving Day 2011

Dallas Cowboys vs. Miami Dolphins - Thanksgiving Day 2011

A few weeks ago, the Cowboys’ Thanksgiving guests looked like a gimme win.

Not anymore. The Miami Dolphins will bring a three-game winning streak to town.

The Dolphins aren’t just winning. They suddenly started dominating after an 0-7 start that was punctuated by three-point losses to the Broncos and Giants. Miami’s wins over the Chiefs, Redskins and Bills came by an average margin of 22 points.

An inept offense has morphed into an explosive one with Cowboys castoff quarterback Matt Moore throwing for six touchdowns and only one interception during the win streak. The Dolphins, who scored 20 points only once in the first seven games, have put up 31, 20 and 35 in the last few games.

The Dolphins’ defense, which has been respectable all season, hasn’t allowed a touchdown in the last three games.

“The group just keeps fighting, keep swinging pretty good,” Miami coach Tony Sparano told reporters Monday. “I think it’s great, but right now that one is behind us and we’re ready to go to the next one and see what we do.”

A win over these Dolphins certainly isn’t the sure thing it seemed to be a few weeks ago.

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JERRY JONES: ‘We did not play well against Redskins’

Washington Redskins holder Sav Rocca (6, right) reacts after kicker Graham Gano (4) missed an OT field goal and the opportunity to give the Redskins the win. Jones knows that wasn’t a playoff-caliber performance against the Washington Redskins, who came a couple of feet away on a 52-yard field goal attempt from snapping a five-game losing streak.

Star-Telegram/Paul Moseley

Washington Redskins holder Sav Rocca (6, right) reacts after kicker Graham Gano (4) missed an OT field goal and the opportunity to give the Redskins the win. Jones knows that wasn’t a playoff-caliber performance against the Washington Redskins, who came a couple of feet away on a 52-yard field goal attempt from snapping a five-game losing streak.

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Jerry Jones isn’t going to sugarcoat things just because the Dallas Cowboys pulled out an overtime win Sunday.

Jones knows that wasn’t a playoff-caliber performance against the Washington Redskins, who came a couple of feet away on a 52-yard field goal attempt from snapping a five-game losing streak.

“We did not play well against the Redskins,” Jones said Tuesday on KRLD-FM. “(Tony) Romo did. Early, if we hit on a couple of things, then it might have been a different story. We just missed on a couple of throws, but still, we did not play well across the board. We’ve got to do better than that at a future here in terms of this year.”

Nevertheless, the Cowboys ended the weekend at the top of the NFC East standings with a 6-4 record and possession of the tiebreaker over the New York Giants.

The Giants had a road game against the NFC South-leading Saints and host the undefeated Green Bay Packers before coming to Cowboys Stadium on Dec. 11. The Cowboys play a pair of teams with face a pair of 3-7 teams the next two weeks, hosting the Miami Dolphins and playing the Arizona Cardinals on the road.

Not that Jones is taking anything for granted.

“We know we were lucky to get out of that game the other day, but we’ve lost some we weren’t lucky in, too,” Jones said. “But you’re going to have games lost by teams that on paper they shouldn’t have lost. That’s why you can’t tell anything now. You really do just have to put your nose down and head down and go get it one at a time.”

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Dallas Cowboys Tony Romo’s regained mobility key vs. Washington Redskins

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant (88) and Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo (9) during pre-game warmups.

Star-Telegram/Paul Moseley

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant (88) and Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo (9) during pre-game warmups.

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IRVING, Texas — For the third straight game, Tony Romo on Sunday looked nothing like the Dallas Cowboys quarterback who was noticeably limited by a fractured rib and bulky protective vest for the first two months of the season.

Romo has always been able to make plays with his feet, and it once again has become part of his skill set the healthier he has gotten. Against Washington, he spun away from the pass rush several times, often making right-handed throws while moving to his left — like the 26-yard completion to Dez Bryant in overtime that set up the winning field goal.

“He’s real mobile. I don’t think most people know that,” Bryant said. “Tony just can make defenders miss and find the open guy and make plays.”

The most impressive thing head coach Jason Garrett noticed was Romo keeping his eyes up while scrambling, scanning the field for open receivers. He did that a number of times Sunday.

“One of the best things Tony does is feel what’s going on around him in the pocket,” Garrett said. “I think he’s really over the course of his career developed into an outstanding pocket passer. And he’s done that without losing the ability to see things and use his instincts and feel for the game.”

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Philadelphia Eagles game vs New York Giants is a wake-up call for the Dallas Cowboys

Dallas Cowboys - America's Team - The Boys Are Back blog

Dallas Cowboys - America's Team - The Boys Are Back blog

IRVING — The Cowboys are tied for first place in the NFC East with the New York Giants. If the season ended today the Cowboys would clinch the No. 4 seed and win the NFC East title because they own the tiebreaker with a better division record (2-1 to 1-2). than the Giants.

Also, the Cowboys have the best conference record in the division at 5-2 and are one of at least five teams with a minimum of five conference wins.

It doesn’t mean anything to the Cowboys at this stage.

“There’s no time for that,” nose tackle Jay Ratliff said after Monday’s walk-through session. “There’s no time for us to look around the league and see what’s going on and get help from this team. One thing that Jason [Garrett] said that really stands out is we need to play with blinders on. Look at what we’re doing and just work on the things that we can control.”

Ratliff noted the Cowboys’ 34-7 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles on Oct. 30 was a wakeup call to this season. After that loss, the Cowboys have forge to a season-high three game win streak and of course first place in the division. The Cowboys have swept the season series with Washington and have three more division and five more conference games left in their season.

“That Eagles game put a nasty taste in our mouths and that’s something that we never want to feel again,” Ratliff said. “And I’m pretty sure that’s something you heard for years and years but it really did. I think that game was a wakeup call and we need to take things more serious and get out there and just do our jobs.”

Garrett has preached all season to his team not to worry about the standings. During his 20 minute news conference on Monday, Garrett seemed to dismiss the team’s place within the division.

“Well, we tell them a lot of different stories and a lot of different anecdotes and ultimately it comes back to probably what you said when asking the question – Our goal is to be great today,” he said. “We try to as coaches express that sentiment lots of different ways and it means coming off adverse situations and it means coming off successful situations. The idea is to somehow learn from each of them, put them to rest and go to the next one. And we’ll certainly try do that this week. There are a lot of good things that happened in that game against the Redskins but there were things that weren’t quite as good. Hopefully we’ll learn from both and process them and go forward to the next opportunity.”

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DIFFERENT STROKES: Approaches different by Dallas Cowboys, Miami Dolphins for upcoming Thanksgiving Day game

Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett meets with Washington Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan after the Dallas Cowboys win. Shortly afterwards, Garrett began preparations for the upcoming Thanksgiving Day game vs Miami Dolphins.

Star-Telegram/Paul Moseley

Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett meets with Washington Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan after the Dallas Cowboys win. Shortly afterwards, Garrett began preparations for the upcoming Thanksgiving Day game vs Miami Dolphins.

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IRVING, Texas — Jason Garrett did not go home after the Cowboys returned from Washington D.C. on Sunday night, heading straight to Valley Ranch to begin work on Thursday’s opponent, Miami.

The assistant coaches reviewed the game film of the Redskins’ win on the plane ride home and got to work on the Miami plan Monday morning.

In Garrett’s focused world, he did not want to turn attention away from Washington in leading up to the Redskins’ game.

Miami coach Tony Sparano, who was a Dallas assistant from 2003-07, had a slightly different approach even as the Dolphins have put together a three-game winning streak.

“Well the challenge for me and the challenge for the players is completely different,” Sparano told the Dolphins’ media. “I mean coaches we’ve spent the last couple weeks, last couple weekends in preparation for this and then came right back after the game here and got work done early this morning so everything was ready to go.”

Because of Sparano’s history in preparing for the Thanksgiving game with the Cowboys, any advantage the Cowboys would have in a short week could be mitigated.

“I think a lot of people around the league have played in Thursday games,” Garrett said. “I don’t think that’s a huge, huge advantage. Tony is obviously a great football coach and we were fortunate to have him here and I was fortunate to work with him for a year when I first got here. He’ll have his team ready no doubt.”

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SPECIAL FEATURE: Dallas Cowboys doing right things for Tony Fiammetta

Dallas Cowboys head athletic trainer Jim Maurer

Dallas Cowboys head athletic trainer Jim Maurer

IRVING — The Cowboys don’t have starting fullback Tony Fiammetta due to an illness that hasn’t been clearly defined.

Reporters have been told Fiammetta gets nauseous and sick when he’s working out.

We do know Fiammetta’s health issue is not long-term or placed his teammates in any real danger of it being contagious. But the mystery surrounding it is scary for not only him but for the team.

The Cowboys’ medical staff does a wonderful job in getting their players the best treatment possible and wouldn’t put a player back on the field if it meant long-term damage.

When Tony Romo tried to return to the field last year with a broken collarbone, he was yanked back to the sidelines by associate athletic trainer Britt Brown. Romo also tried to get back in a game at San Francisco before pain medication kicked in for a fractured rib. Head athletic trainer Jim Maurer made sure Romo didn’t play until he was nearly pain-free.

Along the sidelines on Sunday at Washington several players left the game for an ailment but were quickly tended to by the Cowboys medical staff. One player tried to walk away from a trainer but was quickly grabbed so he could get treatment.

The Cowboys have said they’re doing everything possible to help their fullback.

“His symptoms are he just feels nauseous and sick when he’s working out,” coach Jason Garrett said. “And I don’t want to get too much into detail about that, but that’s really been it more than anything else. So we have to understand why, whether it’s some illnesses in his family or whatever, I don’t want to go into too much detail, but we’re just trying to get to the bottom of it and we’re doing everything we can to do that.”

This is not the first time an illness has baffled a NFL team.

Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Jeremy Maclin missed all of training camp with a mystery illness. The Eagles had to address rumors if it was cancer, mononucleosis or if it was life-threatening.

Maclin lost weight and had low energy. He also had night sweats and a loss of appetite. But the symptoms subsided and after doctors cleared him he was able to play.

Miami had two players, John Jerry and Ike Alama-Francis, similar situations.

The Cowboys value Fiammetta’s work at fullback. But this isn’t about football, it’s more about the player’s well-being and the Cowboys are doing everything they can to solve Fiammetta’s health issues.

“I just think we’re just trying to be sensitive to the whole situation,” Garrett said. “Certainly regarding concussions, we want to make sure we do everything the exact right way. The league has done a really good job outlining the procedures and the protocol for all of that, and Jim Maurer and our medical staff do a great job following all of that. So we just want to make sure we’re doing the right things by the player first and foremost, and we’ll just see how it goes here in the next few days.”

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Staff Profile - Jim Maurer - Dallas Cowboys head athletic trainer
Staff Profile – Jim Maurer – Dallas Cowboys head athletic trainer

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RANDY GALLOWAY: Today, we come to praise Tony Romo

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo (9) arranges his linemen, center Phil Costa (67) and guard Montrae Holland (64) in the first 1quarter.

Star-Telegram/Paul Moseley

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo (9) arranges his linemen, center Phil Costa (67) and guard Montrae Holland (64) in the first 1quarter.

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Nobody else wants to say it, so I will.

I will say it for you, and you, and you.

Thanks, Tony.

Thanks for saving the Cowboys’ season in Washington.

Thanks for covering for Rob Ryan’s defense, which had a total mind-blowing collapse against one of the worst offensive units in all of ball.

Thanks for covering for Joe D’s special teams, which were consistently horrific in every area except for Dan Bailey’s toe.

Thanks for covering for your offensive line, a group that had been coming around lately but lost the manly battle up front to a good defensive unit that we already knew had refused to quit on the Redskins’ dismal season.

Really, is it that difficult to say, thanks, Tony?

When Romo deserves to be blasted, he is blasted, without hesitation, and deservedly so. I am always the first to chip in on the blasting. Not a lot of research is necessary. See the Jets game. See the Lions game.

But Romo is now in the midst of an excellent quarterbacking roll over the past three games, and hardly by coincidence, the Cowboys have won all three.

Except, until Sunday, all the credit went to rookie running back DeMarco Murray, and the Murray factor is certainly deserving of praise. But we all knew this, the same as we knew it in the Dynasty Days, eventually it would all come down to the quarterback making plays when all else around him stood still.

Jan. 17, 1993. Candlestick Park. Aikman to Harper. With that one pass, the Super Bowl runs began.

OK, this ain’t that. These Cowboys aren’t Super Bowl contenders. But to continue the entertainment process, and continue the playoff possibilities, the quarterback had to deliver Sunday in Washington. All else had failed.

Romo consistently delivered. Delivered on three clutch throws, all of them on third down, all under duress, and all happening because he created his own time.

Two of those passes went for touchdowns, one to Laurent Robinson early in the fourth quarter to tie the game 17-17, the next to Jason Witten to provide a 24-17 lead. And then on third-and-15 in overtime, the 26-yard strike to Dez Bryant on a play when Romo again skillfully escaped pressure.

That last one resulted in the 39-yard field goal to win it.

But wait.

Why don’t we all rip Tony for a penalty that never happened?

As the holder, his attempted timeout call (the Cowboys had already used both OT timeouts) as the play clock was down to two seconds seemed to be a bigger emphasis with many than the game he played at quarterback.

Really?

First, it wasn’t a penalty because the Redskins also called timeout to freeze Bailey.

Secondly, why wasn’t anyone asking why the hell the play clock was down to two seconds at the most critical point in the game? That’s yet another special teams disaster, that the field goal unit wasn’t lined up and ready to go.

Thirdly, it was third down when the Cowboys were kicking.

If, if, if Romo had gotten the 15-yard penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct (there’s disagreement over what the penalty would have been), I repeat, it was third down. Third and 23.

Bailey wasn’t going to try a 54-yard field goal.

Romo and the offense would have gotten another shot to make up the yardage lost if there had been a penalty. The way Tony was clutching up on third down, I wouldn’t have bet against him.

But there was no penalty, right?

I also could add that your starting quarterback should never be the holder, but that’s a lost argument, although if the Cowboys can carry four kickers on the roster (they actually had four for one game), why not go get a “holding specialist,” too? Yes, I’m kidding, but…

I just thought I would bring it up that Romo played great in Washington, has played great the past three games, and because it’s a game-to-game process for him, we will see if it continues on Thursday with a revived Miami in town for the Thanksgiving Day affair.

Sure, the Cowboys dodged a disaster in Washington.

Somehow, the defense managed to transform Rex the Wreck into Tom Brady.

Somehow, the worst group of receivers in the NFL managed to consistently win downfield matchups, particularly in the middle of the field.

Somehow, maybe the worst offensive line in the league managed to buy time for Mr. Grossman, who, to his credit, was tricky on play-action fakes, freezing the Cowboys defense.

This game was a matchup of Ryan scheming against a very poor offense, while Romo had to overcome a good defense. Tony did. Rob’s guys were pathetic in their failure.

As far as the special teams, we know the Cowboys have no return game, but at least you can stop it on the other end. Joe D, your guys really, really stunk.

Yet, in the end, it didn’t matter. Each week is a new adventure, not just for the Cowboys, but it’s a consistent theme around the NFL. See the Giants against the Eagles on Sunday night. Both teams were awful.

There are no ugly wins for the Cowboys. The Cowboys aren’t good enough to be style-pointing Ws. But in a bad NFC East, they are good enough to be tied for the lead at 6-4.

Thanks for that, Tony.

You saved all Cow butts in Washington.

I just thought I’d mention it.

Randy Galloway

Randy Galloway can be heard 3-6 p.m. weekdays on Galloway & Co. on ESPN/103.3 FM.

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PRO BOWL WORTHY: DeMarcus Ware regains sack lead; On pace to tie record

Dallas Cowboys outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware (94) grabs Washington Redskins quarterback Rex Grossman (8) for a 4th qtr loss on this sack.

Star-Telegram/Paul Moseley

Dallas Cowboys outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware (94) grabs Washington Redskins quarterback Rex Grossman (8) for a 4th qtr loss on this sack.

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While it was a rather quiet afternoon for DeMarcus Ware for most of Sunday’s game with the Redskins, he did record a key fourth-quarter sack, upping his total to 14 through 10 games.

Not only did that put him ahead of Minnesota’s Jared Allen, who remained at 13.5 on Sunday, but it keeps him right on pace to tie or just surpass Michael Strahan’s single-season record of 22.5 sacks.

The math isn’t exact here, but Ware is averaging nearly a sack and a half for each game. With six games left, Ware is on pace to record somewhere between eight or nine sacks for the rest of the regular season.

Even if he falls off the pace a bit, Ware has a four-sack game this year against the Eagles and has numerous multi-sack games for his career. So it’ll likely come down to the season finale against Strahan’s former team, the Giants, in the regular-season finale on Jan. 1.

The question is where Allen will be on the stat sheet.

Along with the NFL records, Ware is also moving up the charts on the Cowboys’ all-time sack list. He recorded his 94th career sack on Sunday, moving him in a tie for seventh in team history, equaling Bob Lilly.

By the end of the years, it’s realistic to think Ware will be fourth in club history, passing Jim Jeffcoat (94.5), Jethro Pugh (95.5) and George Andrie (97). The all-time record for sacks in Cowboys history is 114, set by Harvey Martin.

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VIDEO: Jason Garrett press conference | Preparing for the Miami Dolphins | Injury updates

Garrett Press Conference: Early preparation for the Miami Dolphins.

Jason Garrett speaks to the Dallas media. Team has already begun preparations for the Dolphins on Sunday.

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INSIDE THE NUMBERS: League Stats

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo (9), holding for kicker Dan Bailey (5) reacts as Bailey's OT field goal is good, winning the game for the Cowboys. Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten (82) is at left.

Star-Telegram/Paul Moseley

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Through 10 games of the season, it’s far enough to start getting a solid gauge on how this team, and individual players rank around the league.

For those who really only care about one stat and one stat only – this isn’t for you. Just take the Cowboys’ 6-4 record and wait until it changes next Thursday afternoon.

But for others who like to see how the team and players stack up, here are a few things to point out from this week’s league statistics.

· The Cowboys one of only two teams to be ranked in the top 15 of the six main stat categories – total offense (6th), total defense (10th), run offense (10th), run defense (11th), pass offense (6th) and pass defense (13th). The only other team with rankings across the board that high is Houston. The Wade Phillips-led defense ranks first in the NFL.

· Tony Romo is ranked fourth the NFL in quarterback rating at 99.4 Romo is behind the three QBs widely considered the best in the game in Aaron Rodgers (128.8), Tom Brady (102.0) and Drew Brees (101.3).

· Romo continues to lead the NFL in fumble recoveries with six.

· DeMarcus Ware regained the sack lead on Minnesota’s Jared Allen (13.5) with his 14th sack on Sunday.

· After a slow start, DeMarco Murray is up to ninth in the NFL in rushing with 747 yards, two behind Steven Jackson (749).

· Of all players with at least 100 rushing attempts, Murray leads them in rushing average at 6.0 yards a carry.

· Dan Bailey is one of two players to eclipse 100 points this year. He ranks just behind San Francisco’s kicker David Akers (102) for first place in total scoring.

· The only stat the Cowboys lead the entire NFL is field-goal percentage. Dan Bailey is 25 of 26 this year, including 24 straight.

· The Cowboys rank 30th in the NFL in red-zone scoring, getting just 13 touchdowns in 32 attempts (40.6 percent).

· The Cowboys are now seventh in the NFL in turnover margin, with a +6 difference.

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TUESDAY INJURY UPDATE: Sensabaugh Questionable | Kitna Out | Fiammetta remains sidelined

NFL Injury Update - The Boys Are Back blog

NFL Injury Update - The Boys Are Back blog

Dallas Cowboys safety Gerald Sensabaugh suffered a foot injury against the Washington Redskins and was seen at the team’s headquarters on Monday wearing a walking boot. Sensabaugh is not expected to practice this week but he said he plans on trying to play against the Miami Dolphins Thursday. Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said Sensabaugh has played through some injuries in the past and the team was hopeful that he could play despite such a short turnaround this. If Sensabaugh can’t go, look for Barry Church to replace him in the starting lineup.

Due to the short week, quarterback Jon Kitna is expected to miss his second straight game with a sore back, according to coach Jason Garrett. Former Texas A&M star Stephen McGee the primary backup for starter Tony Romo on Thanksgiving Day against the Dolphins.

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RELATED: Fullback Tony Fiammetta remains sidelined with unknown illness

Fullback Tony Fiammetta is likely to miss his second straight game with an unknown illness, delivering another setback to the Cowboys running game.

Fiammetta was considered a key to the team’s running success of late and the emergence of rookie DeMarco Murray, who has 601 yards in the four games prior to Sunday’s 27-24 overtime victory against the Dolphins.

Murray had just 73 yards on 25 carries with backup tight end John Phillips as the primary lead blocker against the Redskins. Coach Jason Garrett said Phillips did a credible job but he also couldn’t deny the difference Fiammetta makes when he is in the game as a true fullback.

The puzzling thing for the Cowboys is that they don’t know what’s exactly wrong with Phillips who has been held out of practice since last week. His symptoms include nausea and sickness when he is working out, Garrett said.

“We do not have an idea,” Garrett said. “He’s been sick the last week or so, so we are just kind of attending to those symptoms as much as anything else. We are hopeful he can be around as soon as possible, but we will continue to test him to see how he’s doing to get him back to full strength. ”

Asked the origin of the illness, Garrett said the doctors and trainers were stumped. He said the team’s entire medical staff as well as specialists have been consulted.

“We are just evaluating the origin of the illness – without getting into too many details about what the different possibilities,” Garrett said. “We are just trying to look at it and see why he is feeling sick…just trying to get to the bottom of it.”

Garrett said right now there is no timetable for his return, athough the Cowboys are hopeful it’s soon.

“We are treating him like any other injury that we have, trying to get to the bottom of what happened, what we should do about it and hopefully we can get him back sooner rather than later,” Garrett said.

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JAY RATLIFF SPEAKS: says Jason Garrett ‘coming into his own;’ Rob Ryan is ‘head-coach material’

Dallas Cowboys nose tackle Jay Ratliff makes a hit on Washington Redskins quarterback Rex Grossman.

STAR-TELEGRAM/RODGER MALLISON

Dallas Cowboys nose tackle Jay Ratliff makes a hit on Washington Redskins quarterback Rex Grossman.

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Jay Ratliff is usually a player of few words. The seventh-year nose tackle is serious business on the field and off. But he told reporters Monday at Valley Ranch that he is enjoying the season, playing for new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, appreciating head coach Jason Garrett and taking on more of a leadership role.

Some highlights from his chat with reporters:

On Garrett: “ … One thing I really like about Jason, more than anything, he’s trying to get it done. You can tell he’s been in his head coach role. He’s coming into his own more and more. It’s definitely showing up. Players are definitely responding more to him. Even in the beginning, things got turned around immediately. Now it’s like everyone is really buying in what he’s trying to tell us and what he’s trying to teach us. … Everything isn’t beautiful, but we keep winning. That’s the whole objective, is to get that W.”

On Ryan’s coaching: “Rob is a great coach. In my eyes, he’s also head coach material. It’s just an honor to play for the guy. It’s really fun. He listens to his players. If you’ve got input on a play or something like that, he’ll stop, take time, listen to it, and if it fits the defensive scheme, he’ll put it in. It’s really a player friendly defense. We’re just happy to have him on board.”

On his role in Ryan’s scheme: “One thing about this defense – there’s a lot more freedom in it. I feel I fit well in it. We haven’t quite done it yet, but i can play across the whole board if I’m needed to do that. It’s just fun.”

On being tied for first place in the NFC East: “Right now, there’s no time for that. There’s not time for us to look around the league and see what’s going on and get help from this team, that team. One thing Jason said that really stands out is we need to just play with blinders on. Look at what we’re doing and just work on the things that we can control. We can’t control anything else, what other teams try to do to us scheme-wise. Just play our best and do what we need to do.”

On his emerging role as a vocal leader: “I really don’t believe in pep talks. Truly just say what’s in my heart. Just talk about what needs to be done. Get everybody to try to see that. We’re fortunate to be here playing this game. No matter how long your career is, it’s a short window. So you want to try to make the most of it. I have blessed memories. What’s a better memory you can have than just winning?”

On Sunday’s crushing tackle of former teammate Tashard Choice, unlike easing up at practice all those years: “A lot of times, when he was here, we’d run up on him and we never really followed through with a tackle, so this was the first time (laughs). It felt good.”

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