OXNARD, Calif. – The 2016 football season begins in 45 days. The journey to Week 1 begins out west.
The Cowboys arrived in Oxnard on Thursday for their 11th training camp on the West Coast since 2001, looking to build the foundation for a winning season after an injury-plagued 4-12 record a year ago.
Players, coaches and staff stepped off their charter flight at approximately 4 p.m. Pacific Time. The team is scheduled to hold its annual camp-opening press conference Friday and the first practice Saturday. Camp in Oxnard breaks Aug. 19.
In between is the annual Blue/White team scrimmage Aug. 7 and the Aug. 13 preseason opener in Los Angeles against the relocated Rams.
"Real excited. Any time we have a new, fresh season where we can show people what we're made of, it's a beautiful thing," wide receiver Cole Beasley said.
Returning healthy are quarterback Tony Romo and wide receiver Dez Bryant, who played only three games together last year; and cornerback Orlando Scandrick, who suffered a season-ending knee injury last August during camp in Oxnard. The absence of all three veterans contributed to the team's struggles in 2015.
Romo had a productive offseason after recovering from a collarbone fracture last November, and Bryant will look to rejoin team drills in Oxnard coming off January foot and ankle surgery. Defensively, Scandrick's return will bolster the secondary, but the Cowboys must overcome NFL suspensions for defensive ends Randy Gregory and DeMarcus Lawrence and linebacker Rolando McClain to start the season.
"We definitely have guys that can step up in their spots and hopefully be able to fill the void while they're gone," safety Barry Church said. "If they can, hopefully they'll make our defense stronger."
The Cowboys' 90-man roster must be trimmed to 75 players on Aug. 30 and the final cut to 53 is on Sept. 3.
In the meantime, coaches and players will get to work. Football's back.
"I thought we had a really, really good offseason," head coach Jason Garrett said Tuesday at AT&T Stadium. "Our players came to work and I thought we got better and we really laid a great foundation for our team. It's a good opportunity for everybody to get away and now we're getting back to work.
"It's a great environment to work in every day. We have the kind of guys on our team who embrace the opportunity to come to work and be Dallas Football Cowboys. We're just excited to get going again."
A look at some of our favorite photos as the Cowboys players, coaches, and staff depart for 2016 Training Camp.