The first official practice of training camp was obviously overshadowed by the absence of Lucky Whitehead, who was released by the team minutes before the start of Monday's afternoon session.
While word trickled around the fields to all of the players by the end of practice, some of them were more knowledgeable than others regarding the actual events that led to Lucky's release.
But according to veteran Jason Witten, the message has been sent by the organization.
"For sure, it is. We heard it loud and clear," Witten said. "That stuff can't come up. We understand what's expected of us. We're going to stand close together. That's what this team does. It doesn't mean you don't keep the standard really high. I think it's a strong message to our entire football team – all of us."
Dez Bryant, who was late to a team run earlier this week and has also had his share of incidents in his career, said he understands what coach Jason Garrett is trying to build.
"I really don't have that much room to talk. Everybody has their own little deal with how they handle things," Dez said. "I'm not saying Lucky didn't respect Coach Garrett's demands. I think he tried to fulfill Coach Garrett's needs as much as he possibly could, but you've got to understand the bigger picture. This team is bigger than one person and you've got to have yourself in check. You've got to have your priorities in check. Coach Garrett is a well-respected guy in this locker room. It's not for the media to say. We love the way Coach Garrett goes about his business and we respect that. That's why we want to play for him and why we want to win for him."
Wide receiver Cole Beasley, who called Lucky a "close friend," said he was unsure about the entire situation but certainly wishes his former teammate the best in the future.
"That thing kind of came out of nowhere," Beasley said. "I don't really know much about it. Obviously he's not here with us anymore. I wish him well. He's a good buddy of mine and I hope everything is all right with him."
Whitehead was released before Monday's practice after yet another off-field incident for him in the last 12 months. This time, he was reportedly arrested on a shoplifting charge in Virginia in June, and then missed his court date earlier this month. Whitehead had a unique situation two weeks ago when he claimed his dog was stolen, only to have it returned days later. Last year, Whitehead missed team meetings before the Cowboys departed to New York for a December game. The team decided to leave him back in Dallas, forcing him to miss the game.