OXNARD, Calif. – Jerry Jones opened his 25th training camp as owner of the Dallas Cowboys sounding as if coach Jason Garrett would be around for 25 more.
The first vote of confidence came before someone could ask Saturday in the annual “State of the Cowboys” address Jones gives on the eve of camp.
The words got stronger after the questions started. Jones said it was a “mistake” to consider this a make-or-break season for Garrett, who missed the playoffs with 8-8 records in each of his two full seasons. Both ended with losses in finales to NFC East rivals with a playoff berth on the line.
The owner and his coach shared a concert-like stage for nearly 40 minutes in what has become a summer tradition for Jones since he bought the team in 1989. Garrett had to duck out for the first team meeting of camp, and as he was walking off the stage, Jones was asked if it was fair to say Garrett’s job was on the line.
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Jones leaned into the microphone, said “no” in several ways and suggested he was looking beyond the two years remaining on Garrett’s contract.
“I look to the future with Jason and not just through his contract that we’re sitting here with right now,” Jones said. “But it is not what is implied when you say, ‘Well, this is an Armageddon year for him.’ It is not that with me.”
The questions started as soon as the Cowboys overhauled their defensive staff in the offseason, and not long after Jones said he was going to make things “uncomfortable” at team headquarters.
Fueled by the comment, speculation centered on Garrett being a rubber stamp for the firing of defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, the hiring of replacement Monte Kiffin and the decision to move play-calling duties from Garrett to Bill Callahan.
Garrett had a stock answer for the “hot seat” issue all offseason: Everyone in the league is on it.
• Safety Will Hill of the New York Giants has been suspended for four games by the league for violating its substance-abuse policy, his second suspension in two years.
Hill, 23, was suspended last year for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs, as he tested positive for Adderall.
• Dion Jordan, a defensive end-linebacker from Oregon who was the third player drafted this year, signed with the Miami Dolphins. The four-year contract reportedly is worth $20.57 million. Jordan had right-shoulder surgery in February and might be limited at the start of camp.