IRVING, Texas – On the day that first-year NFL players head off to the annual rookie symposium, it's fair to say the Cowboys' youngsters are getting acclimated to the professional ranks.
From rookie camp to minicamp, the newest batch of Cowboys players have undergone roughly 20 pro-caliber practices in the two months since they were drafted.
The dead period of the offseason has settled in at Valley Ranch. But all the Cowboys' rookies stopped in earlier this spring to talk about the whirlwind of the offseason program. Chief among them was second-round pick Gavin Escobar, who spent his spring in the considerable shadow of Jason Witten.
Having finished a large chunk of the offseason program, what's the biggest difference between this level and college?
Escobar: Everything is magnified a little bit more – the tempo is a little faster, everyone takes it a little more seriously, meetings are a little bit longer. Everything is a little more important, and everything is a little step above what it used to be.
Do you feel like you've been able to settle into a rhythm in such a short timespan?
Escobar: I'm getting the majority of the playbook, the basics down. I'm getting more comfortable with the terminology as well – it's making more sense. Being able to compete with these guys has become a little more normal than it was.
You've finally had a chance to work alongside Jason Witten for a while. How has that been so far?
Escobar: He's a pro, so he's not joking around at all out there or in meetings. If I'm doing something wrong, he's going to let me know on ways to improve – little things to be conscious of. And when we're in the huddle together he's making sure I'm doing what I need to be doing. Just little things like that.
What has the mental transition been like, going from the star and focal point of your college offense to taking your cues from a Pro Bowler?
Escobar: In college, when you're the guy at tight end -- you're already the guy so guys are kind of coming up to your game. When you're lower on the totem pole now, you're working and competing with one of the best, so it just makes me better. It makes all the tight ends better.
It's just like being a freshman again, but it's good because it makes you work harder because you want to be up at that level. We're getting treated like rookies, obviously, and there's going to be more coming during training camp. But it just makes you work harder when there's great veterans around you that come to work every day and just work hard."
How has the off-field transition to Dallas been? Have you found a place to stay?
Escobar: I actually just found a place, and it's close by. I'll probably move in there pretty soon. But I was driving around a lot this weekend, just kind of feeling the area out. Those freeways, or highways – I was getting so confused. There was some construction … none of the exits were actually there. Thank God for GPS, that saved me – otherwise I'd be in Austin right now.