Opening Statement: “First off the transaction that took place yesterday, we moved Jon Vilma to reserve/injured and signed back corner/safety Chris Carr. Obviously it is a difficult decision. He didn’t have any setbacks. There is still some work to go in regards to his rehab. When he and I spoke, which was quite often here in the last two days, the feeling on both of our parts was that what he is used to and accustomed to playing at a certain speed and a certain level and certainly what we’ve seen still wasn’t there, but he is progressing. That being said, the process that allowed him to go to IR, our decision to do that and then to kind of see if he could get better quick enough to play, I don’t regret especially with a player like Jon Vilma. I know this; I know he has made no long-term decisions. We just had really good dialogue and obviously difficult dialogue with a guy that we won a World Championship with. He’s been a great leader in this locker room. Time will tell with respect to where he goes, where we go long-term. It wasn’t one specific (think). He had 12 snaps in the game, but it was more of an overall knowing that we have eight weeks left in the season and is he going to be able to progress enough to where he is comfortable enough and we are comfortable enough with his progress. Probably bringing him back quickly like this was something you could second guess, but I’ll make that mistake with a guy like Jon Vilma and I’ve made it before.”
How much do you appreciate with his approach of how he doesn’t want to be a detriment to this team?
“I think a couple of things. Number one, I know he was real pleased with the surgery and the way it went. And we were as well. I was encouraged with his recovery. He is going to work tirelessly in anything he does. He is so meticulous in preparation. And the same that you see in regards to a player that studies football was the same approach he took to rehabbing his knee. There are a lot of great things, great qualities that he has. Certainly one of them is his leadership and always putting the team first, but make no mistake about it, this was something I’m sure was difficult to hear. There are some players that you almost have to pull off the field and there is one here, Brian Young is one. We’ve had a handful of players like that. But I know this, it is progressing and it is getting better and that is encouraging. That is why I know for certain that there is no finality or any decisions being made today. There doesn’t need to be. It is just a matter of looking at eight weeks left and then the other players in his position group that are moving around and getting reps with the ability for us to bring in another player back in here. So we went through that process and he has been one of the all timers to coach now. He is a standup guy, a guy that prepares and a guy that takes everything he has done in the film room and brings it to the field. I’ve said this before, he has been what Drew (Brees) has been to our offense to our defense. You are always going to go the extra mile with a player like that.”
Even though Vilma had two weeks of practice, was it tough to gauge because of the practice rules now limiting the number of padded practices?
“It was tough. We were probably in pads one time so it is tough. It is tough to get a true evaluation in fairness to him, and yet your heart pulls because the idea of what he brings along with his ability to play is so much. I don’t regret that.”
Is it even more considering the adversity he went through, the same adversity you did as far as last year?
“That is just a whole different element. None of that and the way he handled that, none of that surprises me. Bring me as many Jon Vilma’s as you can.”
I know you take one game at a time, but you look at the schedule has a lot of potential playoff teams.
“Yeah I think this though, I think it happens earlier and earlier every year and it is just that the coverage has become greater. I’m not sure if it was radio, TV or print after week five I heard discussions about seeding. I get it and I understand it, but it is like trying to figure out who is going to win the Belmont at the first turn. There is a ton of football here for us and for everyone else in our division, in the conference, and throughout the rest of the league. We are halfway finished and honestly the only way I know how without going crazy is to focus on this game. And I am bad about you know who we play three weeks or four weeks from now. We are by nature itinerary driven. You get the next itinerary, you look at it, here we go, and that kind of starts the Monday after your game. Certainly there is advanced work being done on the next opponent, but we really don’t look that far out as to who and where and any of those other things, and probably for a good reason. Each week presents a separate challenge. Tony (Romo) said it yesterday, the most important game of the season is this week and the following week that one will be because that is the only one that you can prepare for and play. That is kind of how we approached it. I know it is a little cliché, but it is for a reason so then it is not really cliché. That’s how you do it. I really believe that. That is the only way you can do it. I can remember, look, there was a theory where you divide the season into quarters. You looked at the first quarter and you pointed out the four opponents and then the idea of that was you had to find a way to win three of these four. And then there was the next quarter, the next quarter, and if we can do that in each of the quarters then you end up with 12 wins. We ditched that in 2008 or 2009 and Drew (Brees) came up to me at one point and said let’s not look at the season in quarters. I’m kind of glad we didn’t because I think the 2009 season we didn’t break it down that way. You just have to put all your effort and energy into the task at hand as opposed to looking down the assembly line. Our job right now is to get ready and do everything we can to play well against Dallas.”
Jerry Jones said he is going to spend more time on the sidelines, was that a distraction to you when you were there? And would it be now if Mr. Benson did?
“It was never a distraction. I would say I have a close relationship with Mr. Jones. He was extremely supportive. He and Bill (Parcells) really worked well together. Not at all, I think one of the great traits he has is I don’t know if there is anyone in this league that wants to win as much as he does. That competitive fire, whether you are up in the suite or in the stands like Mr. Cuban, down on the sidelines, shoot they are the owners, they can be anywhere in the stadium they want to be. I think there is a personality with Jerry that is very contagious. My experience in the three years there was outstanding. It was a great work environment and very supportive. I think as a coach or player the only time you would pay attention to that was in a big win maybe at the very end, but no absolutely not.”
Is there an example of Keenan Lewis doing a really good job with a one-on-one matchup against a dynamic receiver?
“I think the season began with a team that has a lot of size at receiver when you look at Julio (Jones) and Roddy White, those guys are not only physical gifted players but they have size. They have length. Each week is different. Some weeks it is a different type of matchup. It’s a different type of team. This one will be a different look for us than we have seen and one that we have to get acclimated to very quickly.”
How did Roman Harper look today?
“He is moving around well. He did participate and went through everything. I would say this, it’s his first opportunity after six weeks away so there is a transition there. I thought he handled the practice pretty well yesterday and today the same way. The key is just getting the snaps and getting him up to speed with just the football movements compared to the rehab movements. They are a little different.”
Did you have any concern of losing Chris Carr on waivers?
“You always have that any time you move away from a player that is on your roster. A guy with his experience, I think you really worry about the teams that may have had a player injured at his position. Because after training camp there was that opportunity and a lot of teams may have been a little bit more healthier then I don’t know. Any time that you waive a player, and Chris and I had a good discussion after training camp, he is the type of player that knows what to do at corner, safety, nickel, and he can play a lot of spots. You never say never, but he was player that clearly was someone on our short list in the event of an injury. And then in Tampa Bay when Patrick (Robinson) was injured, I’m fairly sure he wasn’t surprised when we called and brought him back and the same way yesterday. You always have a dialogue with a certain player like him and it has happened, not just with Chris (Carr), but with a number of guys that have been in here and then out and then have come back a couple of times to fill a need.”
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