- Tim MacMahon, ESPN Staff Writer
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SAN ANTONIO -- Wade Phillips probably wished he could have rolled his eyes, but he answered the question Saturday with a grin and a one-liner.
"You said Jerry, didn't you?" the Dallas Cowboys' head coach kidded.
Yes, it was owner/general manager Jerry Jones who suggested on ESPN that Dez Bryant's workload had something to do with the first-round pick suffering a high-ankle sprain Friday evening. Just to be clear, Jones said the comments were meant to be analytical, not critical.
Fine, but they were foolish.
Phillips often jokes that Jerry is always right. But the big-mouthed boss was dead wrong in this case.
So what if Jones didn't intend to rip his coaches? It was silly to second-guess them.
It could have opened the coaching staff to unnecessary criticism. However, no media member with a rational mind followed Jones' ridiculous logic. Why exactly is it wrong for a rookie the team is trying to get up to speed to get a good number of reps during a training camp practice?
Give Phillips, offensive coordinator Jason Garrett and receivers coach Ray Sherman credit for not kissing up by lending credence to Jones' crazy comments when asked about them. They all firmly stated that fatigue wasn't a factor in Bryant's injury.
It's not the first time Jerry made a fool of himself with an emotional response regarding an injury to a high-profile player. Remember when he ripped Marion Barber after the running back didn't make the trip to Pittsburgh in December 2008?
In the locker room after that loss, Jones told wave after wave of media hordes that he saw nothing to suggest that Barber couldn't play with a dislocated right pinkie toe. Barber hobbled for a grand total of 15 yards on 13 carries in the remaining three games that season.
At least Jones offered the equivalent of a public apology. He explained that the comments came across as critical of Barber's toughness, but it was because of Barber's toughness that Jones was so surprised he didn't play.
It's absurd to question the toughness of a back known as the Barbarian. Just like it's laughable to wonder whether a coach once mocked (wrongly) by some media members for running Camp Cupcake for limiting contact during practices jeopardized the health of a prized rookie by overworking him.
But that's just Jerry being Jerry.
It's part of the package for the head coach of the Cowboys, at least since Bill Parcells walked out of the Valley Ranch building.
This is Jerry's team, and he seeks the spotlight. He'll occasionally make statements to the media that undermine the coach. Phillips chooses to respond by basically shrugging his shoulders.
"He's passionate about his team," Phillips said. "He worries about the same things I worry about. This is one of the things I like about him. No. 1, he's the general manager, but No. 2, he's an owner who is passionate about his football team."
Phillips, a company man at heart, pointed out that Jerry was right that the Cowboys should try to prevent injuries. What a genius concept!
Of course, if that were truly Jerry's top priority, the Cowboys wouldn't have to deal with the additional wear and tear of practicing on the Alamodome turf for two weeks. But you won't hear that from Phillips' mouth.
21hDoug Clawson, ESPN Stats & Information