Hatcher’s impactful speech didn’t call out teammates

Posted Monday, Sep. 23, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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Much has been made of Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Jason Hatcher’s inspirational speech to the team last week and how it spurred them to dominate the St. Louis Rams on Sunday.

Cowboys coach Jason Garrett continues to deny reports that Hatcher called out some teammates last week, particularly quarterback Tony Romo. But he doesn’t deny the impact of Hatcher’s words and his growing role as a leader in the locker room.

“The reports I heard on that from people were completely inaccurate,” Garrett said. “[Hatcher] is a guy who spoke for a short period of time after practice. That is something you want as a coach. You want to empower your players. He didn’t speak for long. He spoke to the whole group.

“Any sort of idea that he was calling somebody out was completely inaccurate. It was a challenge to everybody there to recognize the opportunity we had and to take full advantage of it. I thought he spoke well. He backs it up in practice and he backs it up in games.”

Hatcher, a 2006 third-round pick out of Grambling, has three sacks in three games this season and is playing the best football of his eight-year career. Garrett said Hatcher’s work ethic and performance give him added credibility.

“He is someone who has the right stuff,” Garrett said. “He is playing well because of who he is and what he is about. But I think that happens with guys. They get more of a chance to play. They get more credibility because they play and they play well. They feel like they can have more of a voice. You want those guys to take over the team. It’s their time.”

Injury limits Spencer

Lost amid the euphoria of Sunday’s victory over the Rams was a setback for defensive end Anthony Spencer.

After playing 34 snaps against the Chiefs a week earlier, Spencer was inactive on Sunday.

Jason Garrett conceded Spencer may have played too much against Kansas City, but he expects the defensive end to return to a full-time player before the end of the season.

“I think it’s realistic,” Garrett said. “It’s a long season. Remember, he was hurt for a couple of games early last year. You just keep banging away and keep trying to get better each and every day and week by week, and hopefully he will be healthy and ready to roll.”

Spencer had left knee surgery July 25, and the pain has not subsided. He said last week he will not need microfracture surgery. He practiced twice the week of the Chiefs game, and the plan had been for him to play only on third downs, but Spencer said after the game that the third downs weren’t coming “fast enough” for him. So he played more than expected, and defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin said Spencer had a “setback.”

Spencer missed two games last season with a shoulder injury.

Dez regrets penalty

Dallas Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant said his back remains sore but it feels a lot better a day after Sunday’s 31-7 victory over the St. Louis Rams than it did after losing to Kansas City.

“It’s sore. But it’s nowhere near how bad it was last Monday. I promise you that,” Bryant said.

Bryant, who practiced fully just one day last week, will continue treatment on his back and could still be limited in practice heading into Sunday’s game against the San Diego Chargers.

Bryant may also be lighter in the wallet after getting flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct in the end zone following a first-quarter touchdown catch for making a throat slashing gesture.

Bryant said he was doing the “cut it off” sign with his palm down rather than the throat slash. He immediately apologized to Jason Garrett but plans to appeal the expected fine from the NFL.

“It wasn’t really a throat slash but I was wrong,” Bryant said. “I came right to [Garrett] and told him this is why I got the flag. I’m going to appeal it. I have to. I shouldn’t have done it anyway.”

Garrett appeared to pat Bryant on the back after he came to the sideline.

“Dez came right over to me immediately after it happened,” Garrett said. “He said, ‘I screwed up. I’m sorry. It’s just a reaction I had. I won’t do it again.’ What do you say to that? Let’s go to the next one.”

Briefly

• Receiver Miles Austin is listed as day-to-day with a hamstring injury. Jason Garrett doesn’t think the injury is serious but says the Cowboys will be cautious because of Austin’s history with hamstring injuries.

• Garrett said rookie center Travis Frederick responded well against the Rams a week after giving up two sacks against the Chiefs. “He is just one of those guys where [the game] doesn’t seem too big for him,” said Garrett. “He understands he is not going to win every time. ... He is getting better and better.”

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