Jerry Jones is an eternal optimist. The Cowboys owner doesn’t go long without mentioning the ‘S’ word.
But Jones hasn’t made a lot of predictions or guarantees this year.
In fact, during the team’s annual Kickoff Luncheon to benefit Happy Hill Farm, Jones’ seven-minute speech seemed to temper the Cowboys’ prospects for 2014.
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“You know we have an uphill battle this year, and we do have an uphill battle,” Jones said, speaking to the players sitting around him. “But most of you had an uphill battle when you came to camp. Most of you did. And some of you have absolutely rose to the occasion. Some of you are taking the challenge on.
“ … This bunch and everybody in this organization knows that we’ve got our backs against the wall. Individuals on this team individually have their backs against the wall.”
Jones, though, ended his speech by saying, “Let’s have a big season.” He did not make himself available to the media afterward.
The Cowboys expect to have six different starters from the 2013 season opener, four of those on a defense that ranked as the third-worst in NFL history last season.
Dez Bryant is going to remain with the Dallas for the foreseeable future. That much is certain. But a contract extension isn’t imminent.
According to multiple sources, Bryant and the Cowboys remain at an impasse regarding the structure, bonus and guaranteed money, making a deal before the start of the season unlikely.
Cowboys vice president Stephen Jones declined to characterize the nature of the talks after the team’s Kickoff Luncheon on Wednesday. But he reiterated the Cowboys’ long-held stance of wanting to get a deal done to make Bryant a “Cowboy for life.”
“We think the world of Dez,” Jones said. “That’s what we want. He wants that. We’ve got to work hard at it.”
If the sides don’t come to terms before the Sept. 7 season opener against the San Francisco 49ers, Bryant plans to shut off talks until after the season.
Cowboys make moves
The Cowboys will bring back running back Phillip Tanner for Thursday’s preseason finale against the Denver Broncos, according to sources.
Tanner spent the past three seasons with the Cowboys and recently was cut by the Indianapolis Colts. He is needed because he is healthy and knows the offense.
Starter DeMarco Murray and primary backup Lance Dunbar are sitting out the Broncos game for precautionary reasons. Joseph Randle (strained oblique) and Ryan Williams (groin) are nursing injuries and will likely be held out, leaving only running back D.J. Adams available. Adams, however, doesn’t know the entire offense after joining the team midway through training camp.
The Cowboys will need to make a roster move before officially signing Tanner.
The Cowboys made one move official Wednesday, claiming cornerback Jemea Thomas off waivers from the New England Patriots. They cut receiver Tim Benford to make room for Thomas. Dallas was in need of cornerback help to get through the preseason finale.
Left tackle Tyron Smith and running back DeMarco Murray shared the offensive MVP award for the 2013 season. Both made their first Pro Bowl.
Safety Barry Church was a double winner, taking defensive MVP honors as well as the Ed Block Courage Award for coming back from a torn Achilles’ tendon that cut short his 2013 season.
Returner Dwayne Harris was honored on special teams.
Danny White won the Legends Award.