By Mike Fisher | @FishSports

ARLINGTON, Texas (105.3 THE FAN)  – The Cowboys Kickoff Luncheon is annually a chance for owner Jerry Jones and his team to proudly strut its stuff. But Wednesday’s event at AT&T Stadium demonstrated a rarely-before-seen effort to manage expectations in every regard.

“You know that we have an uphill battle this year,” Jones said, speaking not only to the audience but also to his team. “But most of you had an uphill battle when you came to camp. And some of you have absolutely rose to the occasion. Some of you are taking the challenge on.”

Coach Jason Garrett spoke in a similar fashion, declining to make predictions or promises except that his team would “fight.”

The low-key approach – arguably born of three straight 8-8 seasons and a wounded defense that enters 2014 looking undermanned – even extended to public conversation about Dez Bryant contract talks. Bryant declined comment and COO Stephen Jones said, “We’re working on it. … They’re either done or they’re not done, and it’s not done.”


Jones did express optimism about an eventual extension that would make Bryant a “Cowboy for life.”done,”

“Obviously, we think the world of Dez and that’s what we want,” Stephen Jones said.  “He wants that, so we just got to work hard at it.”

“Hard work.” “Fight.” “Uphill battling.” These aren’t the usual “Super Bowl-or-Bust”-style catchphrases that served as themes to previous Cowboys Kickoff Luncheons in the Jones Era. It could be the result of a lowered bar of expectations. Or it could be a time of Cowboys humility … and maybe that’s not all bad.

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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