IRVING, Texas (AP) - The season was all of 11 minutes old, and new Cowboys special teams coach Joe DeCamillis already could've been lobbying Jerry Jones for a raise.
He sure had the proof.
Dallas returned the opening kickoff 36 yards and capped the drive with a 51-yard field goal. Then the Cowboys teed it up and booted the ball into the back of the end zone for a touchback, something that didn't happen once last season. Tampa Bay ended that drive by going for a field goal - and Dallas blocked it.
By game's end, the Cowboys had two more touchbacks, a 1-0 record and a pretty good idea that the investment into upgrading the special teams was money well spent. Especially well spent was the money that went to "Joe D."
The former Jacksonville Jaguars special teams coach's quick work with his new team is even more impressive when you consider what he's been through since joining the Cowboys.
When the team's indoor practice facility collapsed in May, it broke two vertebrae in DeCamillis' neck. Just 16 days later, he was on the practice field for the start of offseason workouts, wearing a neck brace and screaming into a bullhorn.
He remained in the stiff collar until midway through training camp. He's still trying to get his energy level back to where it was, but he does a great job of hiding it. Besides, he'd rather be talking about the need for progress his group has made - and how much farther they have to go.
(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)