ARLINGTON, Texas – It might have been hard for everyone else to follow, but Mike McCarthy liked what he saw during an up tempo practice on Sunday night.
The Cowboys' first-year head coach was asked following practice if he liked what he saw during the Sunday night session, and he said the goal was to mimic a game scenario as closely as possible in these circumstances.
"When you look at a football game -- three hours, 15 minutes," McCarthy said. "I think the average reps is about 68 plays for the offense and defense, and another 22 plays of special teams."
Not only were the Cowboys able to hit those marks, they did it much more efficiently. Having looked over his notes, McCarthy said his team managed to run 79 plays of offense against defense, as well as 16 special teams snaps. They finished the night by squeezing in 18 snaps of work in the two-minute drill.
And they didn't need nearly three hours of work to get it done.
"We did that in one hour and 30 minutes," McCarthy said. "So I thought the stress of the conditioning and the communication was excellent for our team. We're at that point in camp where we really needed to hit that target."
Who can say how crisp they'll look when the season starts in two weeks. Even still, it's pretty remarkable to think what is getting accomplished in such an abbreviated training camp.
Typically, the Cowboys would be six weeks into training camp, having already played four of five preseason contests, with the finale slated for this coming Thursday. Instead, they just wrapped up their second week of camp, with just a few more practices on deck before they turn their attention to the season opener.
McCarthy said Sunday that the Cowboys have done some preliminary work on their Week 1 opponent, the Los Angeles Rams, but those preparations won't begin in earnest until later this week.
"I still want to get some competitive work done because it's been so good for us," he said. "So we'll do some more competitive with Ram work tomorrow, and then frankly, Wednesday morning will still do some competitive drills and then we'll shift gears on Thursday."
Weighing all these factors together, it's easy to feel a bit overwhelmed. If football snuck up on all of us in these strange circumstances, it'd be understandable if coaching staffs around the league felt like there wasn't enough time.
McCarthy sounded encouraged, though, having just watched an efficient 90 minutes of practice. For whatever challenges this year might be presenting, it sounds like the Cowboys are handling them well.
"The volume of work that I've stated in the opening statement– to get that much work done in 1 hour and 30 minutes means we're getting close," McCarthy said. "We're getting close to being ready for the Rams."