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A Glimpse Into The Cowboys' Virtual Program


For now, this is the Dallas Cowboys' new normal.

The "virtual" voluntary offseason program is now in its fifth week as players and coaches continue online meetings at home due to the nation's COVID-19 crisis. Typically, the Cowboys would be holding organized team activities at The Star in Frisco. That's not permitted at this point, even as team facilities begin opening up around the league on a limited basis.

In terms of content and instruction, however, the Cowboys' virtual program isn't vastly different than a standard day of meetings at The Star.

"I can just speak on what we're doing, but it's a lot like a regular meeting day would be if we were in the building in the meeting room. Just obviously everyone's on their iPad," guard Zack Martin said via conference call. "With technology now, we're able to do a lot of the same stuff, see kind of what the coaches are doing. It's been very productive."

OTAs typically set the groundwork for scheme installation leading into training camp. That's especially important for a team like the Cowboys, who largely have a new coaching staff under new head coach Mike McCarthy. On-field repetition just isn't possible on the field right now. Classroom-style instruction has taken its place.

The NFL has extended the "virtual" period through May 29, and it remains to be seen whether teams can get back to work in person before the offseason program calendar ends June 26. Due to competitive balance, non-rehabbing players and coaches can't return until every team facility is able to open based on the requirements of their respective states.

As Martin said, "we're kind of in the same boat as everyone else around the country."

"It's tough when you don't get to see your teammates every day in the building," he said. "But I think the biggest thing is just staying in touch with guys, making sure guys are doing what they need to be doing and just checking in on everyone as much as you can."

A virtual program also means the players are working out on their own in cooperation with social distancing guidelines. Martin said he has added equipment to his gym at home in order to simulate normal team workouts as best he can.

"Just trying to stay as consistent as possible," he said. "We've been in contact with our strength coaches and just making sure we're on the same page and that guys are getting work done and not just sitting at home doing nothing."

Until told otherwise, a new normal for the Cowboys and the rest of the league.