Cowboys feed off Rob Ryan quote

SAN ANTONIO -- Coach Jason Garrett emphasized the day before training camp started that he wanted his Dallas Cowboys to have a "shut up and play" approach.

Less than a week later, new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan's mouth roared with a vow to kick the rear -- he used a three-letter synonym -- of an unnamed "all-hype team." It was perceived as a thinly veiled jab at the NFC East rival Philadelphia Eagles.

"Rob Ryan is a confident guy, and one of the things that we like to instill in our players, our coaches and our football team is confidence," Garrett said. "He has a track record of being able to do that. Beyond that, no real comment from me on that."

Ryan, who takes over a defense that allowed the most points in franchise history and the NFC last season, did not talk with the media after Wednesday's morning walkthrough.

Garrett danced around a question about whether he has discussed the comment with Ryan, saying they have "lively conversations about a lot of topics." The remark dominated the discussion after the Cowboys returned from a day off at the Alamodome.

"That's the captain of the ship," three-time Pro Bowl nose tackle Jay Ratliff said. "If he says it, we roll with it."

Perennial Pro Bowl outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware laughed and said "no comment" when asked about the all-hype shot. Bradie James, who joins Ware as one of the defensive captains, joked about needing to do some more pushups and get an extra playbook to prepare to back up Ryan's boast.

"I've got to roll with whoever's in charge," James said. "If that's the way he wants to approach it, it's our job to go out there and execute and make sure that he doesn't look a fool."

Inside linebacker Sean Lee, whose role is expected to increase significantly after an injury-plagued rookie season, considered the comment to be inspirational.

"He's our leader and he's out there saying what he says and I love it," Lee said during a Tuesday appearance on ESPN 103.3's Galloway & Company. "The big thing of our defense is that (people) might have thought we quit, but I think it was about our confidence. Guys had just played so well for so many years and were certainly not playing well and (lost) that confidence.

"He brings that confidence, no matter what. No matter what's going on, he's going to bring that confidence. That's what he had lost, and I think that's what we're really feeding off right now."

Tim MacMahon covers the Cowboys for ESPNDallas.com.