Tough Line To Walk In Off-Season

But that goes back to the original argument of Rest vs. Reps in the first place. The Cowboys last coach Bill Parcells didn't have as many OTA practices as this. He had about a week, maybe two at the most. But his major gripe was that it interfered with the Cowboys' off-season program.

The thinking there is let these players continue to get bigger, stronger and faster without the risk of suffering more injuries so they can be in great shape heading into camp.

It must be pointed out that Isaiah Stanback needed surgery to repair torn meniscus in his knee and will be out until the start of camp. That injury occurred in the first week of OTAs and it's likely that Travis Wilson, who was looking good in practice in the absence of Stanback, Sam Hurd and Miles Austin (both suffering minor leg injuries), will need surgery on his knee and will probably be out longer than Stanback.

Every coach does things differently. And it seems like Wade Phillips gets blasted by every approach he takes. Just remember that Jimmy Johnson did these OTAs, too. They were just called Quarterback Schools. But he kept his players out in the summer working on schemes, formations and evaluating talent as well.

The one big difference in Jimmy's off-season and the one under Wade Phillips is the physicality of training camp.

Members of the media, who obviously have no respect for the game or the coaches conducting the practices, originated the term "Camp Cupcake" two years ago. Since then, the phrase has taken on a life of its own.

And Phillips was criticized, even by former players who played under Johnson, for the lack of hitting and contact in practice. But you have to remember that was just a different time and era.

There aren't many teams killing each other at camp anymore. You can't just run "Bull in the Ring" drills like you saw in The Program, because of the salary cap. If you go out there and lose a backup receiver, you can't just call up and add another one like you could back in early '90s before the cap.

It's a different time and place, and it's up to the coaches to find that right balance that works for his team.

As for me personally, I think balance is good, but I would probably prefer to see less OTAs and maybe a little more contact in camp. Then again, then NFL practice that I coach will be my first.

There's no true science to conducting an off-season and everyone has their opinion. But come late July when training camp open, if you're on the side that wonders why this team isn't running a full-blown scrimmage, just remember these 12 OTA practices, as well as the rookie and veteran mini-camps, that have taken place here in May and June.

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