Photo Gallery: Arriving In Oxnard >>](/node/278366)
OXNARD, Calif. – The 'Boys are back in town.
What started out as an isolated two-week stay some 11 years ago has now turned into a home-away-from-home spot for the Cowboys, who on Saturday arrived to this Southern California agricultural community for the seventh time since 2001.
The expectations are high once again, despite the Cowboys' 8-8 record last year and missing the playoffs for the second straight season.
"I think there's definitely urgency," tight end Jason Witten said after walking off the plane. "I don't know when the window is open and closed, but there's unbelievable urgency. We feel like we're a good team, but we've got to execute better. We've got to play better in key situations. Just go back to that last game, I think that's clear. Everybody has an understanding of that. But for us, it can't be the same old story. Our actions have got to speak louder than our words. That's the approach we're taking. Thirty-one teams have the same goal. We've got to do something about it. There's a good buzz right now. Jason (Garrett) has done a great job of getting the tam ready for this. I think we're all excited about what we can do this year."
The optimism is as bright as the California sun that will be beaming down on these players for 25 days of practice. In the meantime, the Cowboys will practice once a day at the River Ridge sports complex in Oxnard, with two preseason games – at Oakland and San Diego – sprinkled in.
The Cowboys will also spend two days of practice in San Diego against the Chargers before returning home to Texas on Aug. 22.
"Obviously it's been a long time coming to get to training camp," Witten said. "The way the season ended last year, we're excited to get back at it. This is an important part of building your team. This is really conducive to putting the work in. It's all work out here."
As for the setup, there aren't many changes at all. The practice fields, weight room, locker room and everything else needed for a lengthy training camp are all located in the same complex, connected to the Residence Inn hotel.
While the Cowboys haven't been in Oxnard for a full camp since 2008, only visiting for two weeks back in 2010, this River Ridge complex housed the New Orleans Saints last year and there were discussions about the Saints possibly making it their training camp home.
But discussions of the Cowboys returning were already in the works. The Cowboys and Oxnard agreed on a three-year contract that will keep them coming back at least through training camp of 2014.
The first thing that makes Oxnard such an attractive spot is the weather, especially with the Cowboys departing the grueling Texas heat, which has regularly been in the 100s for the last month.
In Oxnard, the temps rarely get above 75 and can range into the high 50s at night and in the morning.
"It's great to go somewhere where you can get a good breeze from the ocean," DeMarcus Ware said. "We've had a great welcome from the people here in Oxnard. We've got a lot of support and that's a good thing. Now it's time to get to work."
The work officially starts Monday with the first practice.