OXNARD, Calif. - This certainly hasn't been the most grueling first weeks of training camp in Cowboys' history, but then again that's to be expected.
The current Collective Bargaining Agreement limits the amount of practice time and mandates 24-hour break periods each week.
So while it might feel like the Cowboys just got started here in camp, it's already time for a day off. The team got Wednesday evening off from meetings and all day Thursday before resuming the schedule after dinner.
It's rather strange to get a full day off, especially after only three practices overall and just one full-padded practice, which occurred on Wednesday. Then again, the afternoon practices have been rather lengthy – three hours, including the first hour dedicated mostly to special teams.
But when asked about the schedule, something that he doesn't have total control over anymore because of the CBA rules, head coach Jason Garrett acknowledged the differences.
"I think if you look back at the history of football, the guys who used to play and coach a long time ago probably think that everybody after them was really soft," said Garrett, who played from 1992-99 with the Cowboys as mostly a backup quarterback. "Times change. We were two-a-days every day in full pads for a long time down there in Austin. It was hot every day and that was just the nature of the time and the nature of our football team. None of us liked it at the time. I think we all benefited from it and believe it or not, we're trying to create the same kind of environment within the rules that the NFL has for us in this day and age. We're trying to take full advantage of that as a coaching staff because we feel like a rigorous training camp helps your football team get ready for the challenge of the season."
The Cowboys return to practice Friday and Saturday before a schedule intra-squad scrimmage Sunday afternoon. That will be exactly one week before the team departs for Oakland to play the Raiders in the preseason opener on Monday Night Football.**