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Cowboys' Bye-Week Practices Must Adhere to NFL Rules

IRVING, Texas –Following a 36-18 Monday night loss to the Chicago Bears, complete with five turnovers, head coach Jason Garrett was probably yearning to get his team out on the practice field to address the things that went wrong. That's all well and good, but Garrett has to work around the rules of the NFL's Collective Bargaining Agreement.

There was a time when coaches could handle their team's practice schedule in whatever way they liked. However, the NFL Player's Association now mandates that players must receive four *consecutive *days off at some point during their bye week. Following the Monday night game, the short week makes it even more difficult to work in the four days of rest. No matter how you dice it, the Cowboys players and coaches will have some time to sit around and think about their performance against the Bears.

As usual the Cowboys received an off day on Tuesday following the game, and Wednesday will include a two-hour practice. But starting Thursday, the Cowboys will have their four straight days to rest.

While Wednesday's practice may seem like just one day followed by a long rest period, Garrett actually compared the practice to a training camp-like setup. This may have something to do with avoiding injuries, but after such a bad loss it would also make sense for the team to take a back-to-the-drawing-board type of approach.

"We reviewed the game from the other day this morning," Garrett said. "We're going to go out there and have a two-hour practice today, really work Cowboys versus Cowboys in practice. More of a training camp-like mode; go over a couple points of emphasis. Then the players will be off for the next four days then get back and get ready for Baltimore starting on Monday."

Starting the four-day rest period on Thursday will allow the Cowboys to get a jumpstart on their preparation for the Ravens by having an extra day of practice on Monday before resuming a normal practice schedule from then on.

It's also important to remember that the next four days will be the longest break that the Cowboy players receive until the season is over. Even after a loss there will be a natural urge to relax and do whatever a particular player might do to enjoy himself. Garrett explained that he does try to make a point of emphasis that their actions will reflect the team and that they should fill their time with wise decisions. "That's always something you try to address with them," Garrett said. "Whenever they have time off and they're going to be away for a little bit, just remind them of what we're trying to get accomplished here, who they are and how they want to represent themselves and their family and our team."

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