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Dallas Cowboys conference calls

Dallas Cowboys Head Coach Jason Garrett

Wednesday Media Conference Call

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Coach Sean Payton has stated that though this is not a division game, you guys are definitely more familiar with each other than a lot of other NFC opponents; do you kind of feel the same way in describing it that way?

"Yea and I think that is just a function of us playing as much as we have in recent years. You see the team year after year or every other year, you get a little familiar with what their systems of football are. You get familiar with who their players are, though there has been a transition, there is a sense of familiarity that I think we both have."

There are a few players on the Saints defense that seem to be improving in health week to week but haven't played yet; how do you prepare in terms of game planning, for the possibility that they could play? How do you prepare for that uncertainty, personnel-wise?

"I think you have to be careful of over preparing for that. I think you probably have to react to those situations more than anything else. We really try to focus on us and what we need to do in our preparation to play our best football. Obviously, you look at the schemes that the other team run, and you look at their personnel, but really you have to base that on the guys you see on tape, as much as anything else. If someone does in fact come back, I can't imagine that there are going to be wholesale changes in what they are trying to do. You adjust accordingly and just keep trying to play your best football."

In the Panther game, the Saints defense had some issues in terms of Greg Olsen having an extremely productive game. With you guys having a very productive tight end in Jason Witten, is that something that you look at week to week or do you more isolate it to a certain opponent?

"I think that we do what we do. There is a certain element of game planning and preparing for the scheme, or the personnel of the team that you are playing against. I think part of that evaluation comes from what has happened in previous games that you are watching in your preparation. At the same time, you have to be careful about getting too enamored with what other people do to have success. I think we have all been around that where teams try to emulate what somebody else did and they kind of lose who they are. We really try to focus on being at our best. There are certainly some things that you can take away from the Carolina game, the Tampa Bay or the Arizona game that can be helpful to us, both good and bad. That goes into your planning and your preparation each week. I think the biggest thing that we try to focus on is us being the best versions of ourselves, and focus on executing at the highest level."

Both teams offensively have had their losses of personnel in the offseason with the Saints trade of Jimmy Graham and DeMarco Murray leaving in free agency with you guys. Both teams have also had to deal with in-season losses with Tony Romo and Dez Bryant on your side and at least last week with Drew (Brees). What has that adjustment been, both (in the) offseason and now having to change things on the fly over the last few weeks with the losses of Dez and Tony?

"It really is the nature of the league. The transition from year to year in your roster happens in 32 cities across the NFL. DeMarco was a really good player for us last year. Obviously, it had a lot to do with the success that we had. He is in Philadelphia now and we are excited about the backs that we have here, Joe Randle, Darren McFadden and Lance Dunbar. Each of those guys has contributed over the first three ballgames for us. We are excited about them. They have worked hard in the offseason. They are excited about the opportunity and they're striving hard to take advantage of it. In regards to injuries during the season, hopefully you build your roster in such a way where you can absorb some of those injuries. Those guys are playing for a reason. Those guys are the better players at their positon in the league for a reason. When you get to your backup, a quarterback, or a backup receiver, or a backup linemen, really what you are asking them to do is go in and do their job. Not try to be the guy that they are trying to replace but just work within the system, be accountable to their teammates and strive their best to do their job in every play. That is all you can ask of them. That is what we are asking of our guys."

Dallas Cowboys Tight End Jason Witten

Conference Call With New Orleans Media

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Seeing your streak of playing through injuries, Drew Brees talked a lot about how tough it was to sit out last week. With you as a competitor, a guy with pride in having played for so long without sitting out, can you understand the difficulty of what he was going through?

"Yes. He probably fought all the way down to the last second to get out there. As good as he is and the great qualities Drew has, one of the greatest qualities that makes him one of the best is how competitive he is. I know that had to be hard on him. I know he's doing everything he can to get back out there, because he's one of the toughest guys in this league and has been for a long time."

How are you healthwise with stories about being on crutches four days before the game. Are you healthy or fighting through that all season?

"I feel really good. I had an ankle sprain there and there was the typical stuff to get the swelling out during the week. I was fortunate enough to not have anything too serious or structurally wrong. At the end of the week, I felt good and played well. Ultimately we've had to do more. We've been running the theme of next man up. Obviously we have some key players down when you look at Dez (Bryant) and Tony (Romo). We're really just doing everything we can to put our best foot forward and play our best football."

How has Brandon Weeden assumed that starting job on and off the field?

"I think he's doing a good job. He has great poise in the huddle, great leadership, probably similar to the situation New Orleans had last week. We had a good first half. We just didn't finish it in the second half. We had a few missed opportunities. We weren't able to execute the way we wanted to. I thought Brandon did a really solid job. He did a good job in leading the charge in terms of all the things that are asked of out of the quarterback position."

Greg Olsen had a big week against the Saints defense last week. In watching the film, do you look at what tight ends can do or is there anything particular that is causing that?

"I know there's not any tendencies there. I think they (Panthers) just did a good job executing. They moved him around. Olsen's a good player. They got him on the backside off the seam on a big long play in the red zone. The next little packages were to get behind the linebackers on a couple touchdowns. Knowing the way the defense is with Rob (Ryan), they provide different stuff. Carolina did a good job executing more than anything else. I don't think there are any tendencies there. Their defense has shut down some good tight ends in the last couple years too. It was just a case of Carolina executing well and the tight end made some big plays."

How has La'el Collins done?

"La'el's done a great job. It's definitely a different situation in how we got him and with the draft. He just came, put his head down and got to work. He worked really hard to get himself in position to play, came into the game in Philadelphia and played well and then last week. You can tell he had a unique skill set and played well and meshed well with our offensive line that has been one of the strengths of our team the last couple years. He has a bright future and played really well when he got in there."

The Saints have played the Cowboys a lot over the years so you've probably been asked it a lot, but can you talk about your overlap with Sean Payton and did you see him as a potential future head coach when you were starting your career?

"Yes, I had three years with him when I started in the league. He taught me a lot. Very proactive. I don't know that anybody knew he'd have the success he had, but (he's) just a great mind, a great leader and knew how to motivate his players offensively. Just being a young player and how he taught, I really enjoyed that and learned a lot from him. He's just a great coach. I look back on that time. It's been quite a few years now. I'm always thankful when I think back on the impact he had not only on the entire team, but I know he and Tony (Romo) had a great relationship and (were from) the same school coming out and the impact he had with him. He taught me a lot. He didn't have to do that. He taught me and saw me grow and we enjoyed our time together. He knows how to motivate, is a great play-caller, gets the best out of his players and I think that's why he's had the success he's had through his career."

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