|Cowboys take train to preseason game in San Diego|
|Written by Admin|
|Friday, 08 August 2008 11:10|
The Cowboys didn't take a short flight or a three-hour bus ride from their training camp in San Diego to their preseason opener against the Chargers. Instead, the team boarded a Southbound train Friday for a five-hour trip along the Pacific coastline.
Dallas owner Jerry Jones said he wanted to ``do what they used to do when they traveled around in the old days.''
The preseason game will mark the unofficial debut of still-suspended cornerback Adam ``Pacman'' Jones, whose last NFL game was the 2006 season finale with Tennessee.
``I had me a long vacation, not saying that I wanted it,'' Jones said. ``It's football season and I'm happy to be back to work.''
Jones, who can play in preseason games, isn't expected to start at cornerback or return any kicks against the Chargers. The Cowboys won't know if he can play in the regular season until NFL commissioner Roger Goodell makes a ruling by Sept. 1.
Coach Wade Phillips couldn't recall the last time he traveled by rail, but he liked the change of pace after 15 consecutive days on the field since opening camp.
``Taking the train where the players can move around and relax a little bit will give us some time that I think we need at this point to get ready for a game,'' he said.
Phillips was defensive coordinator in San Diego before he was hired by Jones after the 2006 season to replace Bill Parcells. He expects his team, which returns all of its NFL-record 13 Pro Bowl players from a 13-win season, to be ready for the game Saturday night against the Chargers.
The Cowboys' season came to a bitter end in January in a home playoff loss against the New York Giants, the eventual Super Bowl champions.
The only significant change on offense was the departure of running back Julius Jones in free agency, but he had already been supplanted by Marion Barber as the starter. Felix Jones, the team's highest draft pick in April, will back up Barber.
Seven-time Pro Bowl linebacker Zach Thomas is expected play for the Cowboys after being limited to only five games last season with the Miami Dolphins because of a concussion and migraines.
Thomas signed a free-agent deal with the Cowboys after being released in February by the Dolphins, where he spent his first 12 seasons and had at least 100 tackles 11 times.
Thomas said he's ready to get back on the field.
``I've never really gotten nervous for preseason games, but I'm sure I will because I'm in a new uniform,'' said Thomas, a starter. ``It will probably be like my rookie year.''
Rookie cornerback Mike Jenkins, the team's other first-round pick, will likely start at left corner against the Chargers in place of injured Pro Bowler Terence Newman (groin). Jones has been working primarily on the right side behind starter Anthony Henry.
Rookie Danny Amendola and other young players will return kicks. Phillips said the Cowboys already know what Jones, acquired from the Titans in April, can do in that area.
While Jones can play in the preseason, Goodell is likely to decide by the week of the Cowboys' season opener whether he will be fully reinstated.
``I'm doing everything that I'm supposed to do to make sure I get reinstated,'' Jones said after practice Thursday. ``I'm not even worried about that right now. I'm worried about playing football ... staying out of trouble and making sure I know my plays.''
Tony Romo, Terrell Owens, Jason Witten and the rest of the starting offense are expected to play about one quarter, which is normal for a preseason opener.
That's after an unusual train ride to get there.
``I've ridden on the train before,'' Owens said. ``When I was in Philly, we did ride the train to Washington. It's going to be fun for everybody.''