OXNARD, Calif.- Even though he didn't spend any of the offseason with the team, Justin Durant felt the same sting from last year's playoff loss to the Packers as much as anyone.
"Man, that one hurt," the veteran linebacker said. "I felt like we left something out there. I didn't want to leave it like that. For me, I certainly didn't want to go out like that."
In Durant's case, "going out" could be referenced to retirement, something that has been linked to him for the past two offseasons. But Durant said it was more of a consideration last year than this time around.
"I pretty much knew I was going to play this year – for someone," Durant said. "I stayed in shape and it was pretty much an understanding that we could get something done about this time."
The Cowboys signed Durant last week and while he's still working on his conditioning during the first couple of days here in training camp, the linebacker said he's in much better shape this year to contribute earlier in camp.
"My mind and my body have been preparing to play," Durant said. "I think the transition will be pretty easy this time."
Durant obviously got one the field enough last year, especially in the final game of the season against the Packers. With the game tied at 28 and seemingly headed for overtime, Aaron Rodgers made an amazing throw to the sideline to tight end Jared Cook, putting Green Bay in field goal range for the winning kick. The Packers advanced to the NFC Championship Game while the Cowboys' season ended in disappointment.
Durant was one of the players closest to Rodgers while he scrambled out of the pocket, giving him an up-close view of the heartbreaking play.
"I didn't even watch the tape at first, but I just happened to be at a restaurant or something and they were replaying the game," Durant said. "I couldn't believe it… that was the first time I saw it. But they had a great design. They had a lineman go out that way to pick me off. There really wasn't anything I could've done other than, maybe be a step faster."
Durant admitted that has bothered him all offseason.
"Of course, of course it has," he said. "Just taking a loss like that. But I'm happy to be back here and let's see if we can take it to another level this year."