IRVING, Texas – If the newest members of the Cowboys still have questions about their new workplace, they got some solid reminders this week.
The second week of OTAs kicked off amid 90-degree temperatures, and they picked up right after the three-day Memorial Day weekend. With the start of training camp still two months on the horizon, it'd be a perfect time for a sluggish practice.
If anyone thought that'd sit well with Cowboys coach Jason Garrett, they clearly learned otherwise.
"It was a long weekend, it was really, really hot yesterday – and it showed," said Alfred Morris. "We practiced terrible, to say the least. Coach wasn't happy about it."
The Cowboys apparently picked up the slack on Wednesday, during their fifth of nine OTA practices. It was enough to draw some praise from Garrett, though not without establishing a firm idea of what is expected.
"Today, we had a good practice. Yesterday, he ripped us a new one," Morris said. "He has a standard, and I love that. No one is better than the standard – no one is above the standard."
Standards and expectations are a big conversation around Valley Ranch recently. Especially with offseason practices beginning, there's been plenty of talk about what to expect.
What are the expectations for Tony Romo and Dez Bryant as they return from injury? What are the expectations for the defense?
Perhaps most notably, what are the expectations of Ezekiel Elliott – a running back talented enough to be drafted No. 4 overall, running behind an offensive line full of fellow first-rounders?
As he has a way of doing, Garrett was sure to take those questions and re-focus them to his entire roster.
"I think the biggest thing that we talk about is that we want to have high expectations -- the approach that we have and the performance that have. And that's really throughout our football team," he said. "We talk about expectations and standards with all of our players every day."
Judging by their reactions, it doesn't sound like Garrett's new charges have a problem with that. Morris emphasized multiple times that he loves playing for a coach who will hold him to a standard. For his part, Elliott doesn't sound remotely bothered by expectations – whether they're coming from inside or outside the building.
"The standard from Coach Garrett is excellence. You're the Dallas Cowboys, you're expected to compete for a Super Bowl every year, so that's nothing but excellence," Elliott said. "The standard he has for us is the same standard we hold each other by."
Of course, Garrett prefers to keep the conversation a bit more tightly focused. Whatever goals sit out in front of them for the 2016 season, the Cowboys' head coach is sure to bring it back to the here and now – daily improvement, even in the midst of spring practices.[embeddedad0]
"The expectations and standards that we have are our own as players and coaches – to want to be our best," Garrett said. "The biggest thing we try to do is focus on those and eliminate the stuff that happens outside of our building."
That's easier said than done, given the team – and players – in question. But if Garrett's standard is the one that matters, he's making sure to establish it early.
"He has a standard, and I love that," Morris said. "No one is better than the standard – no one is above the standard."