Cowboys coach returns to camp

CARROLLTON -- At first glance, it was a site that was hard to believe. Joe DeCamillis, leading the Cowboys special teams, 17 days after suffering a broken neck in the collapse of the indoor practice facility at Valley Ranch.

"I was surprised just as much as you were," said Cowboys long snapper L.P. Ladouceur.

The neck brace DeCamillis was wearing served as subtle reminder of the accident.

"It sends a message that you can do a lot of things that you think you can't do," said Cowboys head coach Wade Phillips."The things he could do were astonishing to me after the guy walked away from what he walked away from."

DeCamillis wasn't on the field very long, about 20 minute, but he was present long enough to take care of his special teams duties.

And it was long enough to inspire an entire football team.

"Put it like this, it's probably 85 degrees out here, it's hot, the rubber is burning your feet, but when I saw him come over and give me a hand shake, it just inspired me," said Cowboys linebacker DeMarcus Ware.

"That was just too motivating, that was inspiration right there," says rookie Linebacker Stephen Hodge. "That man hurt his neck and his back and he's out there walking around even yelling just to get us motivated."

His friends say DeCamillis is tough as nails and it showed. It's part of his background. He was an All-American wrestler at Wyoming.

"I couldn't do it," said Cowboys wide receiver Roy Williams. "I couldn't do it, and he's not an athlete, nothing like that. I'm an athlete, professional athlete, and I couldn't do it."

Says Ladouceur, "We need a coach like that who will show us that you have to be strong, you have to be determined to play in this league and that's what he proved to us this morning."

Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo was impressed as well.

"For Joe to be out here today's says a lot about this dedication to the team and his commitment to his craft," Romo said.

DeCamillis didn't talk about his return, but he will be studying the tape of practice at home and is expected to be back on the field for another session on Wednesday.