Cowboys deny reports of locker room rift Print
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Friday, 12 December 2008 14:11
NFL Headline News

 IRVING, Texas (AP) -Wade Phillips insisted there are no rifts in his locker room, Jerry Jones dismissed rumors of inner turmoil, and Roy Williams wore a Santa hat but hardly sounded merry.
This is how the Dallas Cowboys made their case Friday that everything is just fine at Valley Ranch.
Before a pivotal game Sunday night against the NFC-leading New York Giants, the Cowboys fended off questions about divisive secret meetings, an unhappy Terrell Owens and cornerback Terence Newman's frank comments about accountability.
``I am not worried about a divided locker room,'' Phillips said.
It began with individual meetings Owens, Williams and wide receiver Patrick Crayton had with Cowboys offensive coordinator Jason Garrett this week. The Cowboys characterized the meetings as normal, but the timing hinted at frustrations over their roles.
SPN, citing anonymous sources, that quarterback Tony Romo and tight end Jason Witten sketched out plays in private meetings. The Dallas Morning News and Fort Worth Star-Telegram also reported, again using unnamed sources, that the Cowboys receivers felt Romo favored Witten in games and practices.
In last week's loss to the Steelers, Romo targeted Witten on his last of three interceptions. He also threw incomplete to Witten on fourth down in what was the last gasp for Dallas.
Owens didn't speak to reporters in the locker room Friday, and Williams and Crayton stayed mostly on-message about playing the Giants. The Cowboys held a team meeting Friday morning, but neither Phillips nor players provided much details.
``This has nothing to do with the media or anyone else who is not a Dallas Cowboy,'' Williams said. ``I am a Dallas Cowboy, therefore I am loyal to the Dallas Cowboys.''
Deluged with questions about whether the Cowboys (8-5) are trying to mend divides at a crucial point in the season, Phillips dismissed the reports as non-issues and inventions of the media.
``Everything is set straight as far as I'm concerned,'' he said. ``I think the players, too. We'll see.''
Witten leads the Cowboys with 64 catches. Owens is second with 55 receptions and has nine touchdowns, the most on the team.
ited with Owens at practice Thursday, but the Cowboys owner said he never discussed with his star player whether he was concerned about Romo's relationship with Witten. Jones said they talked about the team and preparation.
``I spent 10 minutes talking with him on an individual basis, so I guess you could say we had a meeting yesterday,'' Jones said Friday in his weekly interview with Dallas radio station KTCK. ``I'm not trying to be trite. There are meetings going on everywhere.''
Reports of locker room troubles come at a particularly inopportune time for Dallas. With three games left, the Cowboys can hardly afford to lose their focus if they want to make the playoffs.
Dallas would sneak in as the final wild-card team if the playoffs began this week. But Atlanta has an identical record, and Philadelphia, Chicago and Washington aren't far behind.
In yet another issue, Friday began with Newman telling ESPN that coaches need to be accountable for their mistakes as much as the players, though he didn't cite any specific examples.
He later told reporters in the locker room he said those remarks publicly in hopes those in the organization would hear his comments and adhere to them.
something we're expected (to do). That's for everybody.''
Running back Marion Barber is listed as questionable for Sunday after missing last week with a dislocated toe. Phillips said Barber has been able to run ahead full speed but still isn't make cuts as sharp as he can.

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