Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Jason Hatcher voluntarily spoke to his teammates after practice earlier this week, making an impassioned plea for them to be accountable heading into Sunday’s game against the St. Louis Rams.
Hatcher called out rookies and veterans alike in hopes of helping the Cowboys break through the malaise of mediocrity and self-inflicted wounds that have engulfed this franchise for more than a decade.
The Cowboys (1-1) are off to another win-one, lose-one start to what has been a win-one, lose-one decade.
They have a 105-105 regular-season record since the start of the 2000 season. And some of the same problems that plagued them during last season’s 8-8 campaign reared their ugly heads in last Sunday’s 17-16 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, namely turnovers, failures in the red zone, untimely penalties and an inability to get a stop when needed.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Star-Telegram
Hatcher didn’t want to talk about what he said, but defensive end DeMarcus Ware backed him up in explaining the overall message in the locker room this week. They are tired of losing games they’re supposed to win because of their own undoings.
“It’s forget about that game, but remember your accountability and where you were and how you played in that last game,” Ware said. “Did you play hard enough and did you do what you needed to do to leave it all out there on the field? We’ve been telling that to the younger guys and even the leaders on the team, the older guys, too.
“It’s not like we don’t have enough talent to win or have the guys not to win, but what type of demeanor, what type of heart are you going to play with every week.”
Ware nears record
Defensive end DeMarcus Ware is 1 1/2 sacks from surpassing the late Harvey Martin as the Cowboys all-time leading sacker.
Ware has 113 sacks. Martin ended his career with 114.
Ware said he doesn’t know much about Martin but plans to learn more about the legendary Cowboys pass rusher who was the co-MVP of Super Bowl XII.
“I’m not a big historian, but when you have an opportunity to break someone’s record, it’s always a blessing, so you need to know the reason why you’re doing it and you need to know about that person,” Ware said.
The Cowboys have monitored sacks since the beginning of the franchise. Sacks became an official NFL statistic in 1982.
Ware is 17th among the all-time NFL sack leaders, tied with Sean Jones. Bruce Smith is the NFL record holder with 200.
Wilcox will start
Cowboys coach Jason Garrett hasn’t fully admitted it, and rookie safety J.J. Wilcox was coy with the media. But the third-round pick from Georgia Southern has worked with the starters alongside strong safety Barry Church in practice and will replace Will Allen in the lineup for Sunday’s game against St. Louis.
Vice president Stephen Jones confirmed on the radio Friday afternoon that Wilcox will start, becoming the first rookie to start at safety for the Cowboys since Pat Watkins in 2006.
“He did get some snaps with the first team,” Garrett said. “He has done a nice job. He is getting better and better over the course of training camp and the early part of the season. “
• Receiver Dez Bryant practiced fully Friday and said he is ready to play Sunday after being limited earlier in the week with a back injury.
• Defensive end Anthony Spencer missed practice as he continues to manage his rehab and return from preseason knee surgery. Spencer is listed as questionable on the injury report.
• Parking lots open at 7 a.m. The plazas will open at 9 a.m. Stadium gates open at 10 a.m. Kickoff is scheduled for noon.