There are many changes this year as opposed to last, and Rob Ryan might be the first one to admit it.
The Cowboys' defensive coordinator finished his first practice of the 2012 season on Friday morning to start a three-day mini-camp. There's one difference right there, considering it's early May.
Last year, Ryan's first as defensive coordinator was the first training camp practice in San Antonio because of the NFL lockout.
And while Ryan isn't one for excuses, he tried not to say that played a part in last year's struggles, seeing they were installing a new defense on the fly.
"I think our guys played hard, but we weren't always smart and on the same page," Ryan said on Friday. "We want to eliminate some bad football. When we look back at ourselves and re-evaluate, I think I started a little too fast and put in the accelerated program without the English 101, which I struggle a little bit with. We're excited about this. I think taking the time to re-teach everything and work on the fundamentals here, I know for a fact we have great defensive coaches, so it's going to be great. We're taking our time to teach defense the way it needs to be taught. I think we're going to be fine."
And getting some defensive help is a big plus. In free agency, the Cowboys signed Brandon Carr, Brodney Pool and Dan Connor. And then in the draft, they traded up for their top defensive player on the board in LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne, not to mention picking defensive players in the first four picks of the draft.
So, is that more pressure for Ryan or a luxury? Ryan went with the latter.
"I know one thing, when you really add some excellent players like we've done, it makes my job a lot easier," Ryan said. "We're looking forward to it. I might not say as much this year, but I think we'll be better than I think. We're going to be damn good."