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 even before someone could ask Saturday in the annual “State of the Cowboys” address that 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 year 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 whether it was fair to say Garrett’s job was on the line.
Jones leaned into the microphone, said “no” in several ways and suggested that 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 a few weeks into 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.
Kiffin might not have helped things when he said his first phone calls were from the owner and his son, executive vice president Stephen Jones.
Garrett had a stock answer for the “hot seat” issue all offseason: Everyone in the NFL is on it. The question for him Saturday was getting out of his personal .500 rut — and the team’s. The Cowboys are 128-128 going back to 1997.
“We are what we are to this point,” Garrett said. “But at some point in your life, you have to let the past go, whether it’s been great, good, mediocre or not so good. And you focus on learning from those experiences and getting better and take advantage of the opportunity in front of you.”
HILL SUSPENDED AGAIN: New York safety Will Hill was suspended for four games by the NFL for violating the league’s substance of abuse policy, his second drug suspension in as many years.
Hill will miss the first four games of New York’s season and be eligible to return for the Oct. 6 game against Philadelphia. He is still allowed to take part in training camp and preseason games.
He was suspended last year for violating the league’s performance enhancing drug policy after testing positive for Adderall.
Around the league
With his NFL career yet to start, Miami first-round pick Dion Jordan decided he didn’t want to fall any farther behind. Jordan, a defensive end and linebacker from Oregon drafted third overall, signed a multiyear contract and will take part in the first training camp practice Sunday. He missed all of the offseason workouts because Oregon is on the quarter system. ... The Eagles and first-round pick Lane Johnson, the No. 4 selection, agreed on a four-year contract two days before rookies report for the start of training camp.