It was already going to be a whole new world for Xavier Woods entering his fourth year in the Cowboys' secondary.
He lost two locker room leaders in his position group, elevating his new veteran status. He has a brand new coaching staff that approaches the game differently. Throw in a global pandemic that has taken his offseason programs to the virtual realm and Woods is just trying to roll with the changes.
With only a handful of weeks of virtual meetings under their belt, Woods says the game plan is nothing like what he's seen under the Jason Garrett regime.
"As far as defensively, it's totally different," Woods said. "A lot more defensive [schemes] than what we've played the past two years. More than just Cover 3 and man-to-man. More pre-snap disguises."
Woods talked about the positional meetings he's been immersed in, explaining that the first few weeks were just an overview of the new defenses and recently they've moved on to film study where each player is expected to call out schemes before they happen.
"We all make mistakes because this is new, "he said. "[But] they've taught us well. They've installed the defenses so that we understand them well, and that's all we can ask for in this moment of time."
Woods claims the secondary meetings have been fun thanks to all the interesting personalities at the positions. But every member of that secondary will have to show up after these virtual sessions informed and prepared for what's to come. In free agency the group lost two starting veterans in Byron Jones and Jeff Heath, who members of the entire defense were able to lean on in previous seasons.
"I don't think it will really hit me until we all get together in training camp," Woods said of not seeing Jones and Heath in their virtual meetings. "It's definitely different not hearing those voices because those were the leaders of the group."
Woods went on to stress that he, Jourdan Lewis and Chidobe Awuzie are all entering their fourth years and those vacant leadership roles will likely fall to them. He also mentioned seventh-year veteran HaHa Clinton-Dix, who will presumably start alongside Woods at safety, will bring valuable experience, suggesting that the two have already connected from a distance
"We feed off each other," Woods claimed of their interactions. "He has knowledge to give me, and what I know I give him. Hopefully we keep that going all the way throughout the season."
Every player in those meetings know that some of the biggest questions that fans have about the upcoming season will be pointed towards the secondary. In an off-season where everything feels different, Woods likes the start he's off to with his new coaching staff, but like all of us, he knows only time will tell. "Coaching-wise, we won't be able to see until we really get out there how they handle on-field coaching."
Either way, Woods knows exactly who he's going on this journey with, and he's excited. "We're gonna gel, become a family, become a brotherhood and hopefully be able to make a Super Bowl run."