SAN ANTONIO - Surrounded by giants, Wade Phillips lines up at linebacker.

It's a demonstration, of course, on how the Cowboys' linebackers are supposed cover a tight end coming off the line of scrimmage on a play-action pass.

As the football is snapped, Phillips looks inside before stepping back and hitting a fast jog for about 10 yards, running alongside Michael Hamlin, who's playing the role of tight end on this defensive drill.

A known perfectionist as a defensive coach, Phillips lines up again for good measure.

A year and some 40 pounds ago, the veteran NFL coach wasn't nearly so hands-on.

However, this is a new Wade Phillips. Now in his fourth season with the Cowboys, the Beaumont native looks good, feels great and, most of all, is comfortable with the potential of this team and the lofty Super Bowl XLV expectations some NFL experts have for Dallas this season.

"I feel good," Phillips said at training camp in the San Antonio Alamodome Wednesday. "I like where I'm at personally and I like where we're at as a team."

This Phillips is a far cry from the coach with an ugly reputation on being unable of winning in the postseason.

The old coach with 34 years of coaching in the NFL on his resume has good reason to display a newfound air confidence and the kind of sureness that he's lacked in the Cowboys' last three seasons which netted only one playoff victory.

The Cowboys are loaded with an offense armed with too many big-time playmakers to put on the field at once.

It's a unit led by quarterback Tony Romo who is primed to put together the kind of season Dallas faithful have been waiting for.

On defense, which was Phillips' specialty coming up in the league as an assistant, the Cowboys are among the best in the NFL. A year ago, Dallas was ranked fifth in pass defense and yards-per-play and sixth in red zone defense.

The Cowboys were also ranked in the top 10 in total defense, third-down defense, yards-per-passing attempt and first downs per game.

What's more is the new and improved Phillips has made a believer of Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.

"You can just sense it when you are talking to him," Jones said when camp began in San Antonio last Saturday. "He's so comfortable in himself around this team. He exudes that to me when I'm with him. You can feel that feeling he feels about this team. I sense that, and I hear it in his voice."