FRISCO, Texas – Three days before the Cowboys leave for training camp, team owner/general manager Jerry Jones, head coach Jason Garrett and his staff spoke to more than 600 registered guests from eight different states at Wednesday's annual Youth Coaches Clinic at Ford Center at The Star.
"A lot of people have chosen to get closer to the game and it's really commendable that all of these young coaches are here trying to get themselves better and to learn more," Garrett said.
After addressing the clinic's attendees, Garrett spoke to the media on a variety of Cowboys topics as the team gets set for camp in Oxnard, Calif.
- Garrett declined comment specifically on running back Ezekiel Elliott's name being mentioned in reports of an alleged altercation in which a 30-year-old man was struck on the nose and injured at a Dallas club over the weekend. Dallas police had no record of Elliott's alleged involvement and did not list him as a suspect, according to reports.
"We're still gathering information on what that whole situation was," Garrett said. "Zeke's someone we believe very strongly in as a person and as a football player. We're going to continue to believe in him and try to put a structure around him and all of our players to help them make great decisions to grow both on and off the field."
(Update: According to reports, Dallas police announced late Wednesday that it has suspended investigation into the incident. Again, Elliott's name was never part of a police report.)
Garrett said he hasn't spoken to Elliott yet but plans to as the team gets set for training camp.
The Cowboys have dealt with some off-the-field issues in recent months. Cornerback Nolan Carroll was arrested in late May on suspicion of driving while intoxicated. In early July, reports surfaced that linebacker Damien Wilson was arrested on a charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Both players posted bond after the incidents.
"Each of us, we're all a work in progress," Garrett said. "What our job is as a coaching staff and as an organization is to provide the right structure and the right environment for people to respond to.
"We've had some incidents here in the offseason that we've had to address. If we didn't believe in the players who were involved in the incidents, they wouldn't be with our team. We believe in them. It doesn't mean that they're infallible; people make mistakes. It's our job to respond the right way, hold them accountable, hold themselves accountable."
- Technically, the Cowboys could have started training camp on Wednesday – 15 days before the Aug. 3 Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio.
Instead of the full team getting started this week, the Cowboys' rookies are doing on-field work at The Star in Frisco over the next three days before the team is scheduled to fly to Oxnard on Saturday.
Garrett said the veterans will report on Friday for physicals and a conditioning run.
"It's another good exposure for the rookies," Garrett said. "We just were in meetings today. They got their physicals done. We'll be out on the field tomorrow. Just an opportunity to get themselves acclimated, get their feet underneath them."
- Linebacker Jaylon Smith reported with the rookies on Wednesday. Smith, the team's second-round pick a year ago, is working his way back from a knee injury and nerve damage that sidelined him all of last season.
Smith practiced every other day during the offseason workouts, and Garrett said the team will monitor him early in camp and create a practice plan for him as they move forward.
"He's been outstanding in his rehab," Garrett said. "He comes to work every day with a great spirit."