Cowboys notes: Team enjoys train ride to San Diego

08/06/2014 3:31 PM

08/06/2014 9:45 PM

Coach Jason Garrett stuck his head out of the Amtrak train window to enjoy the view and take pictures of the Pacific Ocean.

The Dallas Cowboys’ chartered train made its way down the California coast Wednesday morning, offering views of downtown Los Angeles, Angel Stadium, Camp Pendleton, the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club and the coastline.

“It’s actually pretty cool, man,” defensive lineman Jeremy Mincey said during the ride. “We get to walk up and down the aisles and talk to our teammates and hang out. We actually get to enjoy the scenery, so I like it.”

Tony Romo, Sean Lee, DeMarco Murray and Jason Witten played cards. Others played dominoes, listened to music, studied Chargers’ game film or slept.

Players, coaches and staff spread out over seven rail cars, with snacks, sandwiches and drinks available in the dining car. It marks the fourth time since 2008 the Cowboys have taken the train for a preseason game against the Chargers.

But, for many players, it was a first.

“I’ve never been on a train before,” linebacker Cam Lawrence said. “It’s nice; it was a pleasant surprise. I thought we were going to be kind of cooped up like we are on the planes, but this has been nice. Good sights. A lot of room. It’s been fun.”

Mincey spent the early part of the ride scouring the Internet and catching up on current events.

“I was kind of studying the Ebola virus a few minutes ago,” Mincey said.

The team’s four-hour train ride ended in downtown San Diego, where the players boarded buses for the Naval Base San Diego to meet with Navy SEALs.

“I read a couple books on them, and what we’re going to see, so I’m really looking forward to it,” rookie guard Zack Martin said.

Lawrence fondly recalled meeting retired SEAL Marcus Luttrell, the Texan whose story was turned into the movie Lone Survivor.

“They’re obviously a unique breed, and it’s going to be pretty special just being able to be around them and pick their brain,” Lawrence said. “Anything I can take from the experience and apply it to football is what I’m going to try to do.”

Cowboys sign two

The Cowboys signed two defensive backs, and both will play in Thursday’s game against the Chargers.

Cornerback Korey Lindsey and safety Johnny Thomas joined the team Wednesday, filling in at positions of need. The Cowboys released cornerback Dashaun Phillips, a Tarleton State product who was nursing a hamstring injury, and linebacker Joe Windsor.

The Cowboys have been hit hard by injuries in the secondary, finishing practice Tuesday with three healthy cornerbacks and four healthy safeties.

Cornerbacks Morris Claiborne (knee tendinitis), Sterling Moore (groin) and Tyler Patmon (hip flexor) are hobbled, and starter Brandon Carr won’t return until this weekend because of his mother’s death. Safeties Barry Church (ankle), Jakar Hamilton (concussion) and Matt Johnson (hamstring) are out.

Lindsey was a seventh-round pick of the Cincinnati Bengals in 2011 and has spent time with the Cardinals, Colts and Jaguars, though he has never played in a regular-season game. Thomas was most recently with the Saints, and he also has never appeared in a regular-season game.

Escobar at home

Gavin Escobar had a standout career at San Diego State and is excited about playing in his college town Thursday night.

It will mark the beginning of his second season in the NFL, and he is hoping to make significant strides after an underwhelming rookie season.

Escobar, the Cowboys’ second-round pick in 2013, was known for his pass-catching ability in college, but finished with only nine catches for 134 yards and two touchdowns as a rookie. He played a total of 206 offensive snaps and seemed overmatched at times during run-blocking plays.

Asked to assess his rookie season, Escobar said: “I took advantage of the opportunities that I was given.”

Escobar knows he has room to grow and has been focused so far in training camp to improve his run-blocking ability as well as his route running.

Escobar said this year’s camp compared to last year’s has been “night and day.”

“I was drafted as a pass catcher, but obviously I have to be an all-around tight end,” Escobar said. “That’s what I’m striving to do.”

Staff writer Drew Davison contributed to this report.

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