FRISCO, Texas – You know training camp is in full swing when the days of the week don't particularly matter and they all start to blend together.
Coach Mike McCarthy held his first press conference since the start of practice with a mid-day media session on Saturday and will have yet another one Sunday at 7:15 a.m.
But McCarthy was able to answer many questions that stemmed from Friday's first practice. Here are some of the highlights of the Cowboys' head coach on Saturday:
- McCarthy said he's always been a coach that dedicated more time on special teams than others around the league. But now without preseason games, he said there will be even more time associated to the kicking game. "We've dedicated more time to special teams than I have in the past. As we move through training camp, the competitiveness of the periods … we'll get it as close to game-like as we possibly can."
- La'el Collins has "an injury he's working through" is how McCarthy phrased his answer when asked about the starting right tackle. And even when asked again to be more specific, the coach reiterated that it's not a serious injury but wouldn't specify the actual setback.
- The red jerseys on the quarterbacks became a hot topic on Friday when Dak and his teammates trotted out to practice. McCarthy just called it a preference. "It's just something, frankly, that has been done everywhere I've ever worked. I think it identifies the objective when you get into the team periods. To be honest, back in the 1990s, those guys didn't run the ball so much. It might be a little unfair when Dak turns it upfield with a red jersey. It's just protection and identification that I've always used."
- The secondary might have plenty of question marks but there won't be a lack of competition. McCarthy noted the "great numbers" at both cornerback and safety and said "you can't have enough good coverage players and the ability for those guys to play multiple positions will be key."
- There has been some speculation that corners such as Chido Awuzie and Daryl Worley could get some reps at safety. Worley's name was brought up to the head coach, who said he's a great fit to the scheme because of that versatility. "He's off to an excellent start."
- McCarthy said he has used this specific practice schedule in the past, putting the players on the field at 8 a.m. and said it has been popular to the team. The reason for the early start is to practice outdoors on the grass, but also at a time before the temperatures get too hot. "I think it fits our climate here," McCarthy said of the schedule, which gets them off the field by mid-morning but is filled with meetings that last late into the evening. "It's a very fluid schedule. The feedback is very positive with the players."
- With the lack of OTAs, minicamps and quarterback schools this offseason, the coaches are finding as much time as possible to provide extra reps. In the past, the starters that weren't on special teams would typically use that time of practice to either rest or work on conditioning. Now, McCarthy has the quarterbacks and linemen, specifically working indoors at Ford Center to get additional drills. "In the early part of practice we have a quarterback school and a lineman school," McCarthy said. "It's really just a pre-practice type mindset. Quarterbacks don't really have the opportunity to footwork drills, fundamental drills, they have the opportunity to do that for 30-plus minutes during special teams will be very beneficial. It's just an opportunity to give the quarterbacks and linemen extra work."