Dallas Cowboys

Jason Witten: Cowboys more motivated now than we’ve ever been

Jason Witten is motivated to get Cowboys back to Super Bowl in Year 14.
Jason Witten is motivated to get Cowboys back to Super Bowl in Year 14. Star-Telegram

Jason Witten doesn’t know how many more years of football he has left in him, but he knows his championship window with the Dallas Cowboys is now.

And that’s why he’s pleased with how the offseason has gone so far with a “win-now” approach. The veteran tight end is among many in the organization who share a similar mindset that the Cowboys are closer to the 12-4 record posted in 2014 than the 4-12 debacle of last season.

“We’re more motivated now than we’ve ever been,” said Witten, who hosted his annual football ProCamps at Argyle Liberty Christian School on Sunday.

“And that gets you anxious about going into the season.”

Witten, who turned 34 earlier this month, is pleased with the Cowboys’ decision to draft running back Ezekiel Elliott with the fourth overall pick. That ranks as the biggest “win-now” move by the team, as they lacked any major free agent acquisitions.

video by Clarence Hill Jr.

But Elliott gives the Cowboys a chance to return to their 2014 form of pounding the ball and controlling the clock. They were the league’s No.1-ranked team in time of possession in 2014, playing with leads and limiting the defense’s exposure.

They hope to get back to that brand of football in 2016.

“That structure and that philosophy of how you try to play really creates a winning environment,” Witten said. “[Elliott] is a dynamic back that can bring those similar traits to your offense and how you want to approach and play offensive football.

“Easier said than done – you have to go out there and do it. That’s what this [offseason work] is doing, building our team and understanding the opportunity is now. We’ve got to maximize it.”

Cowboys coach Jason Garrett feels Baylor hoops star Rico Gathers can develop into NFL tight end. Video by Drew Davison.

As far as himself, Witten said he continues to work to maintain the level of play he’s established for himself. He’s heading into his 14th season and has already reached several milestones, including the 1,000-catch club and passing Bob Lilly for most consecutive games played in Cowboys history.

A Super Bowl is all that’s missing from his resume.

“It’s very simple for me. There is a standard in which you want to play and I want to compete for a championship and be part of a team we’re all proud of,” Witten said. “I look at it as one year at a time. There are expectations that I have and the team has for me in how they expect me to play.

“I want to meet that and probably exceed that. Every year I start this offseason by evaluating that and how I can do better and things I can do to play at that level again for another year. So I’m excited about that.”

The Cowboys coach updated the status of Tony Romo at the team's annual golf tournament on Wednesday. Video by Drew Davison.

Witten touched on several other topics as well:

On Tony Romo: “He’s going to be ready. He’s worked really hard this offseason. It was a long season for everybody when he was out – just one of those years where those things happen. I know he’s worked really hard to come back. I don’t think he’s trying to come back to his old self, I think he’s coming back to try and be better.”

On DeMarco Murray pointing to him as leader/ mentor: “I take that as a compliment. For DeMarco to say those comments two years removed from being a teammate of mine, you realize the impact you can have on a young teammate. … That’s part of my role as a leader on this team is to help and to mentor and to challenge and do all those things at the same time. But ultimately I try to be the best player I can be and that’s wehre my focus is to prepare myself to be able to play at a high level. All the other stuff becomes natural when you’re part of a team.”

On Rico Gathers making transition from basketball to football: “We’ve seen guys make that transition and have success doing that. [The Cowboys] obviously saw something they liked and think they can build around, and I respect a guy who is trying to do that. It’s not easy to make that transition.”

On having 400-500 kids at his camp: “It’s been a good weekend. I always love having this camp for these kids. Hopefully teach them football, but more importantly teach them more about their life and having high character and integrity and chasing their dreams more than anything else.”

Drew Davison: 817-390-7760, @drewdavison

Cowboys TE Jason Witten crosses over the 1,000 career reception mark in win against Redskins (video by Mac Engel/Star-Telegram).

Dallas Cowboys schedule

Preseason

Saturday, Aug. 13 at Los Angeles Rams, 7 p.m. (ESPN)

Friday, Aug. 19 vs. Miami, 7 p.m., (KTVT/11)

Thursday, Aug. 25 at Seattle, 9 p.m. (KTVT/11)

Thursday, Sept. 1 vs. Houston, 7 p.m. (KTVT/11)

Regular season

Sunday, Sept. 11 vs. New York Giants, 3:25 p.m. (KDFW/4)

Sunday, Sept. 18 at Washington, Noon, (KDFW/4)

Sunday, Sept. 25 vs. Chicago, 7:30 p.m. (KXAS/5)

Sunday, Oct. 2 at San Francisco, 3:25 p.m. (KDFW/4)

Sunday, Oct. 9 vs. Cincinnati, 3:25 p.m. (KTVT/11)

Sunday, Oct. 16 at Green Bay, 3:25 p.m. (KDFW/4)

Sunday, Oct. 23 Bye

Sunday, Oct. 30 vs. Philadelphia, 7:30 p.m. (KXAS/5)

Sunday, Nov. 6 at Cleveland, Noon, (KDFW/4)

Sunday, Nov. 13 at Pittsburgh, 3:25 p.m. (KDFW/4)

Sunday, Nov. 20 vs. Baltimore, Noon (KTVT/11)

Thursday, Nov. 24 vs. Washington, 3:30 p.m. (KDFW/4)

Thursday, Dec. 1 at Minnesota, 7:25 p.m. (KXAS/5, NFL Network and Twitter)

Sunday, Dec. 11 at New York Giants, 7:30 p.m. (KXAS/5)

Sunday, Dec. 18 vs. Tampa Bay, Noon, (KDFW/4)

Monday, Dec. 26 vs. Detroit, 7:30 p.m. (ESPN)

Sunday, Jan. 1 at Philadelphia, Noon (KDFW/4)

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