For the last time, the Cowboys will begin an offseason conditioning program at Valley Ranch.
The team is expected to move into its new facility this summer and should be fully functioning at The Star in Frisco. But in the meantime, the Cowboys’ headquarters in Valley Ranch is where the team will begin its journey back from a disappointing 4-12 season in 2015.
The majority of the roster was back in the building on Monday, the first official day of the program, although many players have been at the facility working out on their own. However, Monday marks the first time the coaches can attend the structured workouts.
One of them champing at the bit to get back was cornerback Orlando Scandrick, who missed the entire 2015 season with a torn ACL injury he suffered in training camp. Entering his ninth pro season, Scandrick is the longest-tenured defensive player. That experience and leadership was evident in some of the words he spoke Monday in a conference call to reporters about the start of the offseason program.
See images from the Cowboys' first day back at Valley Ranch for the 2016 offseason program.
“None of this is mandatory,” he said. “We’ve made a pact: When we’re here, we are going to work. When you’re in the building, you need to give 110 percent. You should be exhausted when you leave this building, mentally and physically.”
Scandrick also praised head coach Jason Garrett, who spoke to the team before the start of the workouts Monday.
“He’s a phenomenal coach,” Scandrick said. “He’s just a straight-shooter, but a really good coach. I feel like the type of coach he is hasn’t been reflected by the record that we have. He gives you perspective. He just instills the confidence in our team.”
Scandrick didn’t provide specifics to Garrett’s message, but added that, “we outlined a little bit of what we need to be successful.”
Quarterback Tony Romo, who said over the weekend that he’s been able to throw at full strength for the last two weeks after undergoing surgery on his collarbone, has been able to orchestrate most of the throwing sessions before Monday.
“We’ve had a great turnout,” Romo said on Saturday. “A lot of guys are wanting to get in and get after it, and I think that’s a great sign. I’m all for seeing all the guys in there every day. You’re always getting better.”
For the next two weeks, the players will focus more on strength and conditioning. In May, once the new draft picks and rookies have joined the team, the program moves outside to more instructional workouts on the field with passing drills for the offense and ball drills for the defense.
The third phase of the offseason program involves the Organized Team Activity (OTA) practices and minicamps, where the offense and defense can compete in live drills. The Cowboys are allowed 10 OTA practice sessions along with a mandatory veteran minicamp in June.
The Cowboys are expected to report to training camp in late July in Oxnard, Calif., where they will again train for about three weeks.