The Dallas Cowboys’ shocking run to a 12-4 record and the NFC East title has put quarterback Tony Romo and running back DeMarco Murray in the NFL Most Valuable Player conversation and coach Jason Garrett in consideration for NFL Coach of the Year.
Also in the mix for league honors is maligned owner/general manager Jerry Jones. Sports Illustrated has already named Jones its general manager of the year for remodeling an 8-8 team each of the past three years into a possible Super Bowl contender.
During a teleconference with the media in advance of Sunday’s NFC wild-card game against the Detroit Lions, Jones refused to grade himself.
But he acknowledged that the team’s front office responded well to several difficult decisions that had to be made in the off-season, including the release of defensive end DeMarcus Ware for salary cap reasons. He said exceutive vice president Stephen Jones deserves as much credit as anyone.
“I need to let you do that. I need to let others to do that,” Jones said Thursday, when asked to grade himself as a general manager. “I know that each and every decision, I know how carefully we weighed them. Every decision. I sure do give Stephen tremendous credit for a lot of the things that we have done this year.”
Not only did the Cowboys cut Ware but they let Pro Bowl defensive tackle Jason Hatcher walk in free agency and then lost middle linebacker Sean Lee for the season with a knee injury in minicamp.
Jones gets credit for talking middle linebacker Rolando McClain out of retirement to replace Lee. But he said the presence of Romo, who has had a career season, ensured they made moves to win in 2014.
The biggest and best thing the Cowboys did was draft guard Zack Martin in the first round and build the offense around a strong running game to take pressure off Romo.
“First and foremost any decision that I have made over the last several years is how we can best exploit the talents of Tony. I know that putting the right supporting cast does it,” Jones said. “He’s been our biggest edge for several years.”
A cold rain forced the Cowboys to alter their practice schedule Thursday, and it could do the same Friday.
With the Cotton Bowl taking place at AT&T Stadium, the Cowboys used Highland Park High School’s indoor facility.
“The rain and the cold and the field, all of those things put together, we just felt it was better for us to go over there and get a good workout inside,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. “I thought our players responded to it well. Just went to work, and we had a good practice.”
It marked the first time the Cowboys have had to move a practice from Valley Ranch since the ice storm on Dec. 6, 2013. It was the 14th time the Cowboys have moved a regular-season practice since the collapse of their indoor practice facility in 2009.
“It really didn’t change much,” receiver Cole Beasley said. “We still got a lot of good work in today, and all it did was just shorten our early meetings, which is install. But everybody was focused in, and we executed everything we needed to today in practice. So it went well.”
The forecast calls for a 90 percent chance of rain Friday morning with a temperature of 39.
Right tackle Doug Free (ankle) and linebacker Anthony Hitchens (ankle) missed practice again Thursday. They worked on the side with trainers at Highland Park.
Defensive tackle Nick Hayden (shoulder) and safety C.J. Spillman (groin) were held out.
Romo (back) returned to practice after having his usual Wednesday off day. Linebackers Dekoda Watson (hamstring) and McClain (knee/illness) had full practices after being limited Wednesday.
Clarence E. Hill Jr.,