ARLINGTON, Texas - In the last week alone, the Cowboys have been to the beach, ridden a train down the Pacific coast, played a preseason game, then practiced against the same team and its facility, followed by a trip to Navy Seals base in San Diego before returning home to Texas.
So Thursday's practice under the lights at Cowboys Stadium was just yet another wrinkle in a schedule that is far from predictable.
The Cowboys practiced in front of the Texas fans for the first time this season in the annual Silver & Blue Debut, presented by Miller Lite. This year's event not included a practice, but had performances by the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders, Cowboys' Rhythm & Blue dance team and more than 50 alumni players, including the likes of Roger Staubach, Mel Renfro, Cliff Harris, Darren Woodson and Lee Roy Jordan. The entire group of former players also attended a dinner with the team after practice in the stadium club.
Oh, and in case you were wondering, yes the regular season opener is less than two weeks away against the defending champions.
But this all just part of the process. Training camp was meant to be back and forth like this with so many events one after the other. For the most, head coach Jason Garrett said the team has handled it well.
"It is a transition," Garrett said. "Training camp is meant to lay the foundation for your football team. I think we did a really good job over the course of the last three-plus weeks coming to work every day. I think our players worked very hard in meetings, walkthroughs, on the practice field, and we made a lot of progress. We're a different team now than we were 3½ weeks ago when we started out there in Oxnard."
While it might seem like a lot of traveling, Garrett said football players have been trained for this sort of chaotic schedule.
"It is a little bit of a different feeling, but guys have been involved in training camp and this transition to the regular season all throughout their careers," Garrett said. "You've just got to do it, you get more comfortable staying at home, some of the young guys are still staying at the hotel, and you just kind of deal with those challenges, but we're going to practice today in preparation for St. Louis, and then play the game on Saturday night.
"It's all coming fairly quickly. I think our guys did a great job in camp and now it's time to transition toward the end of the preseason and into the regular season."
Running back DeMarco Murray said the unknown of the training camp schedule on a daily basis helps the team prepare for game-like situations.
"It's pretty unpredictable and that's the way Coach Garrett wants it," Murray said. "You never know what's going to happen in the game or if things are going to go our way. But that's training camp. I think being out in California was great. It's great to be home and I think we're all mentally juiced up and refreshed."
And that's a good thing, considering the regular-season starts Sept. 5 in the Meadowlands. But between now and then, the Cowboys have the final two preseason games in a five-day span, with a roster deduction to 75 players squeezed in on Monday.
"There's a lot going on right now, but that's the way it is this time of year," linebacker Sean Lee said. "It keeps you focused. It keeps you thinking about the task in front of you. You can't worry about down the road."