OXNARD, Calif.** – The Cowboys have one more practice before their first off day of training camp. They take the field for another fully padded practice on Sunday afternoon before a full day off on Monday.
Cowboys coach Jason Garrett held a late afternoon press conference in anticipation of Sunday's practice, touching on a variety of issues before the off day. Garrett fielded plenty of questions about Saturday's practice, which was surprisingly intense for the first padded practice of the season.
Here are some highlights from the media session:
- Rookie defensive end Ben Gardner left practice Saturday with a shoulder injury. Garrett said he'll likely sit out of Sunday's session. The Cowboys have a day off on Monday, and Garrett said he's hopeful Gardner can return after that.
Photos from the first afternoon padded practice of 2014 Cowboys training camp.
- Brandon Carr has not been at training camp this week as he deals with his mother's illness. Garrett said the Cowboys still don't have a timetable for his arrival as of yet.
- Garrett said he was happy with the competition level to open the first day of practice. He touched specifically on the flare up between Morris Claiborne and Terrance Williams – "I think they understand where the line is, and they understand taking that approach is good for everybody."
- Claiborne has "grown up a little bit," according to Garrett – something that has shown during his offseason work and his demeanor and body language.
- Asked about the need, or lack thereof, of a "get-away" training camp, such as this one in Oxnard, Garrett said the bonding opportunity for the team was a good one.
- Tyrone Crawford showed out during the opening practice of training camp, and Garrett said he "looks like he's getting back to being himself" after rehabbing his torn Achilles throughout the 2013 season and this past offseason. Crawford tore his Achilles on the opening day of camp last summer.
- Garrett talked again about the decision to rest Tony Romo on Friday afternoon, a decision the Cowboys made in hopes of having him 100 percent for Saturday's practice. He said Romo was "right in the middle" of what was a competitive session on Saturday afternoon.
- Tyron Smith's performance in one-on-one drills was one of the highlights of Saturday's practice. Garrett said he talked to veteran defensive end Jeremy Mincey about Smith's ability after practice. The journeyman pass rusher was impressed with how strong Smith proved to be.
- In a moment of levity, Garrett allowed that he has ways of provoking his players into performing. Asked for an example, he detailed a play on Saturday in which Dez Bryant beat Orlando Scandrick badly on an overthrown deep ball. Garrett told Bryant that Scandrick "kicked his butt," which triggered outrage among the team. Garrett said he's aware that's not how the play unfolded, but he expects Bryant to be "ready to go" on Sunday – which was the intention.