IRVING, Texas --The Cowboys' voluntary offseason program isn't expected to start until mid-April under the new collective bargaining agreement. But that's still a relief to head coach Jason Garrett, who didn't see his players until training camp last year due to the NFL work stoppage.
The primary beneficiaries are the 2011 rookies like first-rounder Tyron Smith, who went through his first NFL practice as a 20-year-old last July 28 -- 45 days before his starting debut at right tackle against the Jets.
"We had two rookies starting against the Jets when we went up there, young guys who hadn't play in the NFL," Garrett said, also referring to seventh-round guard Bill Nagy. "That's around the league, that's not specific to us. But it was a challenge for a lot of these guys last year. I think a lot of guys handled it well.
"But you're excited to see them, both in the physical standpoint -- a guy like Tyron Smith who's now 21 years old and 300 pounds. You feel like he could put on 15 pounds without even blinking. So give him a chance to do that but also get exposed to the football stuff and process the year. Last year everything he did was new."