COACH KELLY: No. I talked to him this morning. He said he's going to run around a little bit more today. So we'll see where he is.
Is his hamstring injury, is it abnormal? Is there something about it that's making it last longer than perhaps ‑‑
COACH KELLY: I have no idea about that. I know he's got a hamstring.
Can you see his availability affected based on whether
COACH KELLY: James? Yeah, we've got to have a third, so really kind of when we get towards later in the week, and some of those, like that decision with James last week wasn't made until Sunday. But you've got to have at least an emergency guy if for some reason ‑‑ we wouldn't feel comfortable if we didn't have a third guy available for us.
Are you concerned at all about
COACH KELLY: No, Jason should practice today. Everybody is going to practice today, so we'll see what he can do and then get an evaluation of him after today's practice.
Do you ever go into a game thinking this one is going to be more high scoring than another one? Does it affect your game plan or your play calling?
COACH KELLY: No. An example, we played in the National Championship against Auburn that was supposed to be one for the ages and it was 22‑19. Sometimes games, you had 37 days to prepare, you could analyze it 27 million different ways, and I don't think any game ‑‑ sometimes I've been in games and it's this one is going to be a stern defensive test, and it's 38‑31 at half, and you're just like, that's not what I thought.
We don't go in that way. I think we try to execute what we're trying to do offensively and defensively, and we see how the game goes.
In '04 when Mike Granieri went down, and in '07 with Dennis Dixon going down, how did the offense function with the backup quarterbacks and how comparable is this situation?
COACH KELLY: '04 with Mike, Ricky [Santos] came in and we went to the national playoffs. That was pretty good. And then with Dennis, the thing what happened with Dennis was when Dennis went down in 2007, the other guys went down, so Brady Leaf, our backup ‑‑ we actually played in the Sun Bowl with our fifth string quarterback. We won the Sun Bowl, so I'm going to say good, I guess.
Is there anything comparable to how you adjusted the offense in that situation and how you adjust it in this situation?
COACH KELLY: No, not really. You know, they're all different situations. I think if we had to get to our fifth string quarterback like I did in 2007, then it may be somebody sitting in this room, and that would be ugly. It's a little bit different, and when it happened to me at New Hampshire we went to our backup, who had been with us ‑‑ kind of the same thing, was a red‑shirt freshman so had been with us, it was his second year, and he did an outstanding job, and the offense didn't change because Ricky had been with us the same amount of time.
It wasn't any different. When you get down to after one, after two or three, and now your gut ‑‑ we had a couple young kids at that point in time, that becomes a little bit different, and then we did have to change slightly.
COACH KELLY: No, we're not doing any evaluation right now on what our team in 2014 is going to look like. Our sole focus is beating the Cowboys.
Could that be a byproduct though, him getting a chance?
COACH KELLY: Anything could be a byproduct, but our entire focus is on beating the Cowboys on Sunday.
COACH KELLY: No, and make sure you say misdirected energy as your words, not my words. I think Cary is a highly competitive guy that wants to win in every situation he's in, whether it's on the practice field or against the Cowboys. I think that's just one of Cary's strong traits is his competitive nature. We'd never do anything to try to diminish that. I think that's why he's got an edge to him, and I think that's what Cary is all about, and it makes us better. I think it makes our receivers better. They know when we get in one‑on‑one situations in practices that you'd better be prepared because he's going to play it like the ball is up in the Super Bowl, and that's an awesome thing to have. The more competitive guys you can have on your team, the better off you are.
The Dallas pass catchers specifically, what kind of challenges do they present?
COACH KELLY: Obviously they're different, but the combination of Dez [Bryant] with his size and speed, sometimes we'll face a big receiver, but he doesn't have that top‑end speed that Dez has. Or you're going to somebody with top‑end speed but they don't have the size. He certainly is a guy that's kind of unique in what his skill set is. [Jason] Witten is just another big 265‑pound tight end that just has sure hands. He's got a great understanding of the game. It seems like him and [Tony] Romo are always on the same page, and he seems like maybe he's a little bit like Tony's security blanket because he always knows where he is, and he always knows if he throws it in his direction he's going to come and get that big catch.
So I think it's unique. Sometimes you face a team that's got one guy. They've certainly got two All‑Pros in terms of Dez and Witten, and then you throw in, I think, [Terrance] Williams is coming along, and I don't really know what the health of [Miles] Austin is, but when you throw him into the mix, that passing attack overall I think will be a real difficult challenge for us, just because of how many weapons there are. You just can't say, hey, if we double this guy we're in good shape because there's other guys out there that can hurt you.
3rd down and 4 or less, you guys have run the ball 22 times, passed it 12 times. I imagine you run it more than other teams in that situation. Why is that?
COACH KELLY: We're usually ‑‑ that's part of our weekly decisions when we're in the offensive staff room of what do when we need to do to pick up a 1st down in that situation. Sometimes how people are defending you dictates that sometimes you should run the ball and get a 1st down, but I know overall I think we're at a 45 percent clip on picking up 1st downs, so I think we're doing a decent job of it.
Is it a byproduct at least of the up tempo and teams are going to come ‑‑ I think most teams usually at this level now think they're going to pass, most teams are going to pass, maybe on 3rd and 4. Is it the up tempo nature of your offense that’s forcing more runs in those situations because you do it so quickly when you run the ball?
COACH KELLY: I don't know whether it's the up tempo. Whether we run or pass we're usually in a pretty decent clip in terms of getting the play in. I don't think it's a match‑up thing because most people are playing us in nickel anyway. I can't speak to whether it's because it's up tempo or not.
You guys have been pretty stout since week one with your run defense. How big is that in terms of making teams taking that away?
COACH KELLY: It's important. I think if you can make teams somewhat one‑dimensional, that helps. It just depends on who you're making one‑dimensional, though. I'm sure people would probably wish Peyton Manning ran the ball a lot more on them instead of putting it in his hands every single play. I still think you have to have a tough, physical football team, and to be a tough, physical football team, you have to be able to stop the run, so I think it's important in terms of what we're trying to get accomplished here.
Have you noticed one person on your defensive line standing out in terms of drawing double teams more than another?
COACH KELLY: Double team? No, I mean, I think last game I think [
But Ced in those first games and really Fletch in the game we played against the Bucs were the two guys that kind of stand out for me.
What do you notice about what teams do to try to stop
COACH KELLY: There's a lot ‑‑ I mean, that's the one thing, there's not one protection or scheme that people use. Sometimes they're sliding into Trent, sometimes they're leaving him individual. I know for all of our outside guys, we're getting chipped a lot, whether it be the tight end in a delay release or a running back coming out of the backfield to try to take some of those edges off, and that's something that's really prevalent in this league right now. I think it's made it difficult for a lot of defensive ends in this league because of people chipping on their way out.
Have you sensed anything different in your team? Obviously you said you don't get a trophy if you win this game, but it is for first place against the division rival Cowboys. Have you sensed anything different with your team?
COACH KELLY: No, I haven't, but I think that's a good thing because I think we've practiced well the last couple weeks, and obviously we always talk about preparation, and I think your preparation is what leads to your ‑‑ whether you're successful or not successful on Sundays, and I think those guys get a feel for it.
As we get closer to the game, you start to kind of ‑‑ you're getting into really that mindset that you're trying to get to, and that starts to happen really 48 hours before the game. But they know for us to be successful on Sundays, we have to have an outstanding Thursday, and that's what we control. So just worry about what you can control.
I think sometimes that energy that you can kind of devote to wishing, devote that same energy to planning, and what do we got to get accomplished. This is a big day for us, a big red zone day for us, and what do we have to do both offensively and defensively in the red zone to defeat a really good team, and that's the one thing I love being around them is their professional approach to every single day and how important every single day is.
COACH KELLY: He's going to practice today, so we'll see. But I mean, right now I don't anticipate ‑‑ you'd have to probably ‑‑ we don't have another running back on the roster, so we'd have to make a move where we cut somebody and add somebody. We're not at that stage right now. I think we'd have to kind of be comfortable with it. Again, we've got some guys that we've practiced that can play there if for some reason we went into the game with two. We have contingency plans on who can be three and who can be four.
If Jason Peters can’t play would
COACH KELLY: If Jason couldn't go, but I don't anticipate that because he's going to practice again today, too, then Allen would go in in Jason's spot.
What's your stance on whether players should or shouldn't lose their job because of injury? Coaches have different positions on that.
COACH KELLY: I think it all depends on the individual situation.
What was it about Fletcher Cox that stood out to you last week?
COACH KELLY: I just think his production and the energy that he played with. We had him for five hurries, really created a lot of havoc in there, just starting to ‑‑ little bounce in his step, a little bit more juice out there, and I really ‑‑ I talked to him a little bit about it, and he seemed like he was having fun playing football, and that's what we want out of Fletch because he can really cause some problems inside there. He's starting, again, like everybody, we're all kind of new to each other and we're getting a better feel for him and he's getting a better feel for us.