Cowboys Hope To Handle Thanksgiving Turnaround Better Than Last Year

IRVING, Texas– Jason Garrett was done digesting the tape of the Dolphins game by the time the Cowboys landed back in Dallas-Fort Worth on Sunday night.

Football coaches don't typically allow themselves to savor victories too much, and Garrett is no different. But the 100-hour turnaround between Sunday night and Thursday's Thanksgiving kickoff against Carolina necessitated that attitude.

"I watched the whole game on the plane, cleaned it all up and talked to our staff about it briefly today and talked to our team about it. But then eyes forward really quickly," Garrett said.

That was evident Monday, as the Cowboys went through a walkthrough in anticipation of the visiting Panthers. It was an unpadded practice with no helmets, but Garrett said it served the same function as a typical Wednesday workload – which is usually the team's most intense day of game preparation.

"Today's a really quick day for everybody. We just had our Wednesday practice, so all the preparation that went into that as a coaching staff and with our players," he said. "Now you're on to Thursday -- Thursday is tomorrow. And then we roll into the game 72 hours from now."

To recap, for clarity's sake: Monday was Wednesday, and Tuesday will serve as Thursday. Wednesday will work double-duty as both Friday and Saturday, as the Cowboys cram a seven-day work week into the three days before Thanksgiving.

It's something this team should be used to, given the long-standing history of playing on Thanksgiving. This year's schedule is actually more forgiving than it has been in years past, though. The past two seasons, the Cowboys have played late games on the road in New York on the Sunday before Thanksgiving, putting them back home at roughly 4 a.m. for a short week of work.

Sunday's game in Miami was an early kick, which got the Cowboys back home by 8 p.m. and ready for a more typical work day. During a week in which every aspect of preparation is condensed, Garrett said that can make a difference.

"All of those days matter, all of those hours matter," he said. "Ultimately, we didn't handle it the right way last year. We didn't play our best football on Thanksgiving and hopefully we'll do a better job this year."

With any luck the Cowboys' injury concerns won't be as severe this time around. Garrett said Tony Romo came through the game without any additional concerns on his back or his collarbone, which was a problem during last week's preparation for Philadelphia.

"He's a lot further away from the injury, the back injury, so we do think he's going to be more able to handle the consecutive days in the short week," Garrett said.

The same can be said for Darren McFadden, who once again took a pounding with 29 carries for 129 yards on Sunday. The veteran running back was limited during Monday's walkthrough, but he said he's well-acquainted with how to handle a quick turnaround.

"Getting ready for this short week, you just have to embrace it," McFadden said. "Make sure you take care of your body. You don't have the same amount of time to recover as you normally would. You just have to embrace it."

That seems to be the mantra throughout the organization – which is probably how Garrett would prefer it. The short week won't give anyone much time to dwell on the win, which is exactly how he'd like to approach it.

"Our approach is the same, it really is," he said. "We focus on really coming to work every day and working hard and being our best as coaches and players."

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