OXNARD, Calif. -Under perfectly blue skies, the Cowboys held their first on-field work of the Oxnard portion of training camp on Monday morning, a walk-through session to prepare the players for the afternoon's full-speed practice.
While the Cowboys are just getting started as a full squad, most NFL teams have been at work for days. The Arizona Cardinals started first, reporting to Northern Arizona University on July 23.
Under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, teams cannot practice more than 14 days before their first preseason game, which creates a disadvantage for the Cowboys, who will play the Raiders in their exhibition opener, a game that was selected for the ESPN Monday Night Football national broadcast. The Cowboys have the misfortune of playing the latest preseason opener, and the earliest regular season opener, against the New York Giants on Wednesday, Sept. 5.
The Giants reported to camp on July 26, and are already eligible to begin practicing in pads. The Cowboys cannot begin full-contact workouts until Wednesday.
Head coach Jason Garrett is not willing to use the circumstances as an excuse, however.
"We're not really adjusting," Garrett said. "It gets condensed a little bit, but we're focused on ourselves and what we need to do out here. The installation schedule should be pretty consistent with what it's been in the past. We'll have plenty of time to get our team ready to play football."
The Cowboys did attempt to get the start of camp moved up, but were rebuffed.
"Jason wanted to change that," owner Jerry Jones said. "It was an issue that the league would have to bring to the labor union, and we found out that they had 'higher and pressing issues,' than us being able to get a little break . . . but he gave the try you would expect from Jason."