Grapevine -- Just like always, there was a lot of fun and frivolity at the Cowboys annual golf tournament. Watching big men struggle to hit a little ball can often be a source of comedy.
But this year, a dose of reality accompanied the fun and games.
"Aww man, I mean we miss him," said defensive end Tyrone Crawford.
They're trying to come to grips with the loss of Jason Witten. Not just the tight end, but the leader.
"We know it's a big challenge to replace him and you're never actually going to replace him, but we're ready for that challenge," said offensive lineman Zack Martin.
Witten's retirement means 239 games worth of experience and know-how have left the building.
Filling that void will have to be a group effort.
"It's not like we have to go find somebody to go fill that role," said offensive lineman Travis Frederick. "It might not be one guy that stands above everyone else."
The Cowboys have a leadership council of about a dozen players, but Witten's voice had a singular and overwhelming impact on the group.
"All the guys that are on our veterans committee, our leadership council, those are the guys that need to continue to step up," said head coach Jason Garrett.
The Cowboys loved quarterback Dak Prescott's leadership qualities when they drafted him. Now it only makes sense for the signal caller to become more vocal. And while the third year signal caller didn't speak to the media on this day but there was plenty of talk about him, and how he will be instrumental in the change-over in leadership on this team.
"We have guys like Dak, whose young, but has just a natural ability about him as far as leadership and the way guys gravitate to him," said Frederick.
His fellow lineman echoed the sentiment, "he's really the guy we look to on offense. He does it the right way, comes to the facility every day, does it the right way," said Martin. "He's definitely a guy we look to."
Witten's legacy will be tough to live up to, but it all boils down to this, "just be a pro," said Crawford. "Be a pro on and off the field."
And now the responsibility for that accountability will be a larger burden for a select group of guys trying to uphold the high standard set by Witten.