Jerry Jones admits Cowboys were ‘that close’ to drafting Manziel

Posted Sunday, Jul. 27, 2014  comments  Print Reprints
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Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones can’t help himself. Instead of focusing on training camp, Jones gave new life to an old story during a live segment Sunday on the NFL Network.

Jones admitted the Cowboys were close to drafting former Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel with the 16th overall pick. Jones resisted and chose Notre Dame guard Zack Martin. The Cleveland Browns eventually picked Manziel with the 22nd overall choice.

“I want you to know that almost as I was handing in the card, it was that close to putting that Manziel card in. It was that close,” Jones said. “I looked over to my son, Stephen, our chief executive officer, and I said ‘I took the right pick.’ ... He was the top player by three players on our board at the time that we were sitting there looking at him.”

Jones added: “The question was, ‘Could we make it work with Tony Romo during the period of time that we are going to have Tony?’ And by the way, my expectations are that Tony will be our quarterback several years to come as we move along.

“But Manziel is special. I know him personally. I know that he is going to be a success in the National Football League, and it was a hard decision. And it is one that I will probably have for the rest of my career think about.”

When talking to reporters after practice, Stephen Jones declined to relive draft night. He said he preferred to focus on what the Cowboys needed to do to win this season.

Johnson hurt again

Individually, the rash of injuries the Dallas Cowboys had on the second day of padded workouts weren’t a big deal.

Defensive tackle Terrell McClain was carted off with an ankle injury. Linebacker Will Smith sat out with a groin injury. Linebacker DeVonte Holloman left because of dehydration, and Matt Johnson walked off with a trainer because of tightness in his hamstring. All are considered day-to-day.

Johnson continues to have an injury-plagued history with the team. A fourth-round pick in 2012, he has yet to play in a regular-season game for the Cowboys. He missed his entire rookie season because of hamstring injuries to both legs and a back injury and fractured a foot in the 2013 preseason.

Johnson hoped to reward the Cowboys for their faith and patience by finally staying healthy, but now he is hobbled less than a week into workouts.

“You hate it for Matt,” Stephen Jones said. “Matt has done everything right. He has trained harder than he has every trained. He does all the right things. No one is more frustrated than him.”

His teammates feel for Johnson as well.

“I didn’t see him out here, and I think he messed up his hamstring again,” safety Barry Church said. “I felt real bad because he worked so hard to get back to the point where he’s at.”

Rookie defensive end Ben Gardner, a seventh-round pick, missed Sunday’s practice because of a shoulder injury he suffered on Saturday. He underwent an MRI, which came back negative. He’s expected back on the field Tuesday after Monday’s day off.

Extension on hold

Stephen Jones said the Cowboys have no plans to give running back DeMarco Murray a contract extension before the end of the season.

Murray is in the final year of his rookie deal and coming off of his first Pro Bowl season after rushing for 1,121 yards and nine touchdowns in 2013.

But Jones said the team has had no contract talks with Murray’s agent and have none planned.

“I think we’ll kind of see how his year goes and we’ll go from there,” Jones said. “He’s the type of player we want on our team. He’s young, and he had a good year last year, but I think he’s betting that he’s going to have a great year, and I hope he does.”

Murray, 26, will make $1.4 million this season.

Clarence E. Hill Jr. 817-390-7760 Twitter: @clarencehilljr

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