IRVING, Texas -- Picking up Dallas Cowboys' pieces from four days at the Pro Bowl in Phoenix:
Reliving the catch: Dez Bryant pulled out of the Pro Bowl because of a lingering groin injury, but Green Bay Packers cornerback Sam Shields is playing in the game. The last time they saw each other Bryant’s fourth-down catch was overruled by replay.
“It was a catch,” Shields said, “But the new rule and at the last minute what happened, that’s what the refs came up with. I never said he didn’t catch it. He made a helluva catch I was in great coverage. Like I said, it was good on good and he came up with the catch.”
Bryant thought it was a catch. The Cowboys thought it was a catch. Shields thought it was a catch. The NFL didn’t. Bryant said he was reaching for the goal line as he was going down. Shields agreed.
“I did look back and I seen him reaching and I guess that’s when he didn’t control the ball as he was doing that,” Shields said.
A different experience: In 2003, 262 players were picked in the draft. Tony Romo was not among them.
“It’s just a great experience for everybody,” Romo said. “I think it takes you back to your draft day a little bit and I know that was a great day for me going undrafted and just having fun with it.”
Same as it ever was: The Pro Bowl is hardly about football. It’s about the game’s best players hanging out together and having fun.
At Thursday’s practice at Luke Air Force Base, Jason Garrett’s workout looked a lot like a regular-season practice, minus the pads and run in just about 60 minutes. Darren Woodson joked it was harder than any Pro Bowl practice he remembered when he was in the all-star game.
The Baltimore Ravens staff is running Team Carter, and their session was much different.
“I really believe these guys like to play football,” Garrett said. “They want to play football at a high level. They want to get themselves ready to play a game, understand what we’re trying to do on offense, defense and in the kicking game. I don’t think we want to grind these guys into the ground. We know that it’s the Pro Bowl but hopefully we create a good atmosphere and environment for them to get some stuff done, but have some fun doing it.”
A team that stays together: I’m not a big chemistry guy. I believe chemistry is made by winning. But during the off time the Cowboys always seemed together -- and not just the seven players in attendance.
The players, coaches, equipment staff, athletic training staff and video staff, as well as their wives and girlfriends, were seemingly joined at the hip, especially at night by the fire pit outside at the Arizona Biltmore. Garrett often talks about the family atmosphere that he has tried to build, and that was clearly evident earlier in the week.
Here and there: Marc Colombo is working as the assistant offensive line coach to Frank Pollack at the Pro Bowl. He spent 2014 working in the scouting department. Nothing is official about his role in 2015, but he is the leader in the clubhouse to land the job Pollack held in 2013 and ’14 ... Assistant head coach/defense Monte Kiffin is with the staff. He has not signed a new deal to remain with the Cowboys and that is expected to be sorted out once the team returns home after the all-star game ... It was windy at Thursday’s practice but it did not affect Matthew Stafford at all. Of all the quarterbacks at the game, his passes just pierced through the wind effortlessly ... The Cowboys have to go against Buffalo defensive end Mario Williams in 2015 and it was surprising to see how big he is in person. He is a fierce pass rusher, but he has a thicker build than, say, DeMarcus Ware.