Sitting on a 7-3 record with six games to play, it feels like ages since Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones said the 2014 season would be "an uphill battle."
Asked to revisit that comment Tuesday morning on 105.3 The Fan, Jones said the Cowboys’ record — as well as their relative health at this point in the season — have changed his initial expectations for this year’s team.
"They have, and it has to do with, I would say, certainly how we’ve played," Jones said. "But the biggest thing is that we’re in better shape physically on the defensive side of the ball."
Jones made his "uphill battle" comment during a preseason luncheon after the Cowboys returned from training camp. In that address to the team, Jones said the Cowboys were still dealing with a lot of important "what if" scenarios — such as the returns of Anthony Spencer, Henry Melton and Tyrone Crawford from serious injuries, as well as inserting Rolando McClain into the starting lineup.
The Cowboys also knew they’d be without DeMarcus Lawrence for the first eight weeks of the season, and they wouldn’t have Josh Brent for the foreseeable future.
As the team begins to prepare its 11th game of the season, Jones said all those scenarios have played out well for the Cowboys, and it’s made a difference this year.
"If you really look at it, these guys are not only back from their injury, but they also have a couple games, three or four weeks of practice under their belt," he said.
The bye week also looks to have done wonders for the current health of the roster. Jones said both Crawford and McClain, who missed the Week 10 win against Jacksonville, should be good to practice this week.
"Both will practice, so I feel good about them," he said. "Across the board, we’re good on the offensive line — that’s Free included and Leary included — so that’s a good thing."
On the whole, it looks like Tyler Patmon’s knee injury is the only issue limiting the Cowboys’ active roster. Jones said the rookie corner will likely miss another two weeks.
It all combines to provide a sense of optimism for the last six games of the season. Though, Jones was quick to point out the difficult stretch that lies in front of the Cowboys, with four of their final six games on the road.