Phillips has become a livewire at owners' meeting

Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley

DANA POINT, Calif. -- Last night at an NFL reception on the Pacific Lawn of the St. Regis Resort Monarch Beach, Cowboys head coach Wade Phillips let down his guard for a few minutes. He was standing next to owner Jerry Jones, so I wasn't sure what the protocol was regarding his offseason gag order.

It wasn't the type of event where you whip out a notepad, so we simply discussed his daughter's acting career in Los Angeles and the fact that he and his wife, Laurie, are celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary Sunday. He said he was very pleased with the Cowboys' offseason moves so far and then he told me a story about potential No. 1 overall pick Jason Smith, whom I've been writing a feature on.

Because the Cowboys have the No. 51 pick in the second round, they didn't bother interviewing Smith at the combine. But at one point, Phillips said he noticed Smith standing in the team's doorway.

"He said he just wanted to hang around with our coaches for a little bit," Phillips said. "He grew up a Cowboys fan, so I thought that was pretty neat."

Earlier in the day, Phillips talked to Dallas Morning News beat man Todd Archer about the offseason. It was the first time he'd spoken to a reporter since his end-of-the-season news conference in January. Nothing too revealing here, but it was still notable that Phillips was allowed to (or decided on his own to) speak to a reporter.

Asked about T.O.'s release, Phillips said: "That's what we've got to address. He had over 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns last year, and the year before, he had more than that. We do think we have good players, young players especially, that we think can come through. And plus, we've got Roy Williams."

Phillips thinks having a full offseason with the Cowboys will be a huge benefit.

"He can help us, and I think he will once he gets in with the quarterback and the offseason and the regular season and preseason and all that," Phillips said. "He's got great talent and he works hard. He's going to fit in well with our guys."

In other news, the Beast joined the AFC head coaches for an intimate breakfast this morning. We had long conversations with Dick Jauron (T.O.), Tony Sparano and Todd Haley. When I walked in the room at 7 a.m. Pacific time, there were already about 25 reporters surrounding Broncos coach Josh McDaniels table. I held a spot for AFC West blogger Bill Williamson and then escaped to Jauron's table.