SAN DIEGO – When the 2012 training camp is remembered, it will be hard not to reflect on things such as injuries, particularly to hamstrings. Or to some comments from Jerry Jones, like when he told the fans what's going to happen against the Giants or his emphatic wish to return to the "glory" days.
But overall, the Cowboys will be leaving California on Wednesday with what head coach Jason Garrett called an "outstanding camp," although there is still plenty of work left to do before the season opener against the Giants on Sept. 5.
"Training camp is where you lay the foundation of your football team," Garrett said. "I thought we did a great job of getting ourselves ready in the offseason for training camp and since we were out here, the team really worked very, very, very hard. Oxnard is a great environment to practice, a couple of good, competitive preseason games in all three phases and then to come down here and work against the Chargers was good for our football team. We'll break and get back to Dallas and get into regular-season mode."
The Cowboys wrapped up their 25th day in California with a rather physical practice against the Chargers that included a few fights. But overall, it was a productive day for the Cowboys, especially on the offensive side of the ball, despite being without starters Jason Witten, Dez Bryant, Phil Costa and Miles Austin. Defensively, the Cowboys were without DeMarcus Ware, and Mike Jenkins has yet to practice.
Still, while one of the team doctors playfully called this team a "M.A.S.H. unit," the Cowboys have found a way to fight through.
"We as coaches, when we look at practice, you can tell the guys were close to the end," Garrett said. "That's the nature of these last training camp practices. But, I was proud of how we fought through some things. It was an ugly practice. We're not going to send the tape to Canton and I told our team that. But you like the mental toughness to fight through it and then hopefully there's a little feeling of a lot of the real physical work is done and you get a chance to get refreshed a little bit."
Quarterback Tony Romo always takes a more simplistic approach to things and that's why it was difficult for him to put a capper on anything, knowing there are still two preseason games and two weeks before the start of the regular season.
"I think in a lot of ways camp is over, (but) we're going back and we're going to work," Romo said after Tuesday's practice. "We've still got some stuff to get better at, but it was a great start to the season with the effort and commitment the guys made. I know we've got some guys banged up so we've got to get a lot of guys healthy. But, we laid the foundation. It was a really, really good camp for the Dallas Cowboys."
At one point in Tuesday's practice, Romo was taking shotgun snaps from center David Arkin, who is filling in for Costa (back) and has only played the position for about three weeks. Romo was throwing to receivers Kevin Ogletree, Cole Beasley, Danny Coale and Dwayne Harris, while the likes of Austin, Bryant and Witten sit.
Still, when asked if he's worried about getting everyone healthy and on the same page for Sept. 5 in the Meadowlands, Romo curtailed that question and remained in the short term. "Our team doesn't take that approach. We don't look past the day," he said. "That's one of the best things about this team. They've done a great job of handling adversity and handling just the ability to focus in on the task at hand. If you can do that, it's mental toughness. We say it all the time. I think mental toughness is being your best, regardless of the circumstance, and that's what our approach is out here."