Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett speaks to the media for the final time from training camp in Oxnard, California.
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OXNARD, Calif. – Instead of the afternoon practice, the Cowboys got a day at the beach Wednesday. But barely. Coach Jason Garrett put a challenge out after the walk-through – he broke everyone up into six groups, assigned them a quarterback, and if the quarterback could hit the crossbar with a throw from 35 yards, it was a day off for everybody.
Every quarterback missed, even trick-shooter Alex Tanney, although Nick Stephens came very close twice. Then Garrett took his second throw, and apparently hit the money bar.
Apparently, because even though the throw appeared to miss, the team got the day off.
“Why is it disputed?” Garrett said with a laugh in his daily press conference.
Uh, because it missed?
Garrett smiled, “It looked like the crossbar to me.”
Linebacker Sean Lee said, “It’s fun. Coach Garrett is unbelievable to play for, not only from a motivational standpoint for football, but for making it great, making it fun for us.”
Garrett said the players deserved a day off.
“I thought yesterday was probably our best practice of training camp, and in fact we had to kind of cut it a little bit short at the end,” he said. “It was very physical, very competitive. We worked really hard to put our players in competitive situations. It’s a really important thing for individual players and for your team, and our team has embraced that. I think yesterday was probably as good as it’s been in terms of the competition on both sides since we’ve been here in Oxnard. We were planning on doing this anyway – we had three good days of practice coming out of the Oakland game. Our guys have worked hard, and I just think it’s the right thing to do. I think they responded well to the work we had earlier in the week – give them a little bit of a break, come back tomorrow and start getting ready for Arizona.”
For coach Jason Garrett, part of the benefit of camp away from home is a chance for the players to bond.
“They’re together. They eat meals with each other. They get tape,” Garrett said. “Everything they do is kind of next to each other, and we think that’s a positive thing. You can create that same environment at home. I’ve been part of that as both a player and as a coach. So you just kind of figure it out. But that’s a really important piece of training camp. You better make sure that happens.”
Veteran cornerback Brandon Carr said the team is a family, and training camp is “like a family vacation for us, a bonding experience.”
Here are some more notes from the Cowboys’ morning walkthrough session:
- Guard Ronald Leary missed walkthrough with a knee problem. Garrett said Leary will undergo an MRI on Wednesday. He added that this injury doesn’t appear to be related to Leary’s previous one.
- Garrett listed cornerback Morris Claiborne as “day-to-day,” though he didn’t rule out the possibility that Claiborne could play Saturday against the Cardinals. “We think he’s getting better. The week is moving along here, so we’ll see if he’s able to come back and do anything tomorrow,” Garrett said. “If he can’t do anything tomorrow, he won’t play in the game on Saturday … He might play a little bit in this game if he responds well here in the next 24 hours, but if not he’ll probably get ready to play next week.
- Safety J.J. Wilcox will not return to Oxnard, as his mother died this week following a battle with lupus. Garrett said Wilcox will rejoin the team in Dallas.
- Hall of Fame linebacker Dick Butkus spoke to the team ahead of Wednesday’s walkthrough. Garrett said Butkus talked about the privilege of playing in the NFL.(Video | Audio)
- Butkus called linebacker Sean Lee and “old school” player. Garrett said he made sure his middle linebacker got a chance to speak to the Hall of Famer while he was with the team. “It was a privilege for all of us to have him around,” said Garrett of Butkus.
2013-2014 TRAINING CAMP UPDATE: Jason Garrett press conference–Boys hit the beach
Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett speaks to the media after completing his teams morning walkthrough.
You can hear a lot of things at training camp.
You don’t often hear Jason Witten’s voice ringing out in anger from the huddle: “Shut the —- up!”
But anybody within 100 yards of the huddle on Thursday heard just that. Stunned, everyone wondered, “What was that about?”
“Aw, nothing personal. It’s just part of being in the huddle,” Witten said after practice. “I don’t really want to talk about it.”
Well, coach Jason Garrett did say he wanted vocal leaders. Witten is vocal. But the well-respected “Senator” isn’t often vocal like that.
Of course, 12 days of camp with three to go before a game can add stress to any practice.
“Hey, look. It’s time to compete, it’s time to go,” Witten said. “Wasn’t anything personal. Just excited to be out there playing.”
Sure was a lot of excitement for one practice.
Tony Romo Press Conference – Lucky to have Jason Garrett (Duration 15:20)
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo talks about a range of subjects, including:
- Impressed with how quickly 2013 rookie draft picks are adapting
- How he feels while getting back into football shape
- Asked if he’s getting more than usual amount of ice tub this year
- Offseason preparation, can’t duplicate 11-on-11
- Intent of playing in upcoming Hall of Fame game
- First preseason game playing percentage for him is the same this year
- Coaching receivers and expanded role in offense
- Dealing with national media and local critic speculation
- Getting Witten more involved in the redzone this season
- Expectations coming into the 2013-2014 season
- Thoughts on the upcoming visit to Canton, and the Hall of Fame
- Larry Allen memories when him and Witten were rookies
- Communication with teammates while on sidelines, meetings, etc.
- Thoughts on new personnel packages and plays coming this season
- Working with Travis Frederick
- Asked about his legacy as a QB in Dallas
- Bill Parcells influence on him
- Relationship with Jason Garrett
- Text that Bill Parcells sent him after signing new contract
- What it’s like to practice against guys like Carr, Ware, Lee, Carter
- Miles Austin, Dez Bryant
- Intensive running routine of Dallas receivers
- Dunbar impressing, DeMarco, Randall, Tanner
- Talking to kids at his football camps
- How the past two 8-8 seasons fit into the big picture
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Rookie receiver Terrance Williams had a rough couple of days in his first training camp, unable to get open, being pushed around by Morris Claiborne and generally looking a step behind. But Tuesday, he turned it around with a better performance.
He got his nose in the playbook, sat in the film room, and paid attention.
“I put that to use,” he said about Tuesday’s practice, when he was stronger and caught more passes. “That’s something I’ve just got to continue to build on, keep going over the playbook. I just paid attention to what the coaches were telling me and the other players were telling me. And today, I ran well and caught the ball well.”
Coach Jason Garrett said he tells all the players, but especially the rookies, to “know, and know they know.” That means playing with confidence in your assignment, and Williams, one of the Cowboys’ third-round picks in April, is starting to see what that means.
“The coaches and Dez and Miles told me to relax and just do me, just have fun,” Williams said. “I get to thinking, and I get to second-guessing myself and then I don’t run the right speed. But when I’m playing relaxed and freely, I can just take the top off defenses.”
Williams smiles when he thinks about how he got chewed up by the coaches on Monday.
“It was just to help me out,” he said. “If they didn’t like me, they wouldn’t have said anything. So I just took it to heart. I came to the film session, paid attention to the stuff they told me and put it to good use.”
SETTING THE TONE: Historic capture of Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett’s team-meeting speech (FULL VIDEO)
Surprisingly, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and head coach Jason Garrett allowed SI.com’s Peter King to record Garrett’s entire Saturday team meeting to kick off the start of this year’s training camp (see below).
For the folks who only see the robotic version of Garrett during weekly and postgame press conferences, this version of the coach is a lot different.
The biggest difference: On several occasions, Garrett uses a certain four-letter — and sometimes seven-letter — word that starts with F.
Even after Garrett leaves the podium following press conferences and speaks with media members when the cameras are off, he almost never uses a curse word. This video shows he has no problem doing so in front of his players if that’s what it takes to keep them engaged.
Here are some of the highlights.
– “It’s hard to get in this room. Since you were this [expletive] high, you wanted to do it. Have a passion for it. Great attitudes.”
– “The NFL is hard. It’s a journey. It’s [expletive] hard. It’s hard to play one game in the National Football League, let alone 16 of them.”
– “I want Dez Bryant and Mo Claiborne [expletive] here tomorrow one-on-one on the left-hand side. That’s what I want, competing your [butt] off.”
– “You want guys who are leaders. Step up and be a [expletive] leader. Lead this football team. Lead it!”
– “The [coaches] I love to this day, were on my [butt] of every [expletive] minute of every day. I swear to God, I go to their weddings, their kids are getting married, I travel all over the world to see them. They [expletive] grinded me. It was hard. They made me better. That’s my job.”
– “The best [expletive] football teams I’ve been on, the quarterback held them accountable, the middle linebacker held them accountable, the pass rusher held them accountable, the tight end held them accountable. This is how we do stuff. This is the Cowboys. We’re trying to do something!”
– “Distinguish yourself from your play, not with what you say. We have a little bit of society that gets to a point where people want to distinguish themselves. They want to be famous by what they say. Twitter, all that kind of stuff that goes on, what they’re saying. Stick with yourself and your play. Talk about Sean Lee because he’s the best [expletive] Mike linebacker in football. Right? Not because he tweeted something, or said something in a press conference, or whatever.”
DAWN OF A NEW DAY – and football in a new way—starting in the inner sanctum of the Dallas Cowboys
Courtesy: Peter King
OXNARD, Calif. — “Life,’’ Jason Garrett told his team Saturday afternoon, pacing in front of his 90 players, “is about opportunities. The NFL! The Dallas Cowboys! Are you kidding me? Since we were this high we wanted to be here.”
I find myself this morning feeling the same as Garrett. Only I’ve got a different team. It’s called The MMQB, a site under the Sports Illustrated umbrella, using all the means of modern media to disseminate that football prose and information. Unlike Garrett, I haven’t made a speech to fire up the troops. I don’t have much Lombardi in me anyway.
First things first: I’m excited about our first post. I’ve always been intrigued with the speeches coaches make to teams at the start of training camp, in part because I once heard a 1973 tape of Paul Brown’s to his Cincinnati Bengals. I wrote about that speech a year ago. The rules, the expectations, the mundane, the inspirational. In the spring, I knew we’d be kicking off this new site around the start of NFL camps, and I went in search of a team that might let us not only write about a coach’s first speech of the season to his team, but show video of it. In our business today, we’ve all got to get wise to video. So after some convincing, Dallas owner Jerry Jones gave his blessing, along with coach Jason Garrett. And so, on Saturday, in his team meeting room a few long spirals from the Pacific Ocean, Garrett stepped to the front and laid out his hopes, plans, expectations and rules for the new season. To the best of my knowledge, I don’t believe a head coach’s full training-camp speech, the words and video, has ever seen the light of day … until today. We’re proud to bring it to you.
The full 35-minute video can be found here.
Three things I found compelling about Garrett’s presentation:
• Notice how silent it is in the room? Never a peep in 36 minutes, and there was a sensitive microphone at work in the room. You notice it especially when the vague topic of leadership surfaces, and Garrett gets animated. “We want guys who are leaders. Leaders!’’ Garrett said, eyes wide. “Step up and be a leader. Lead this football team. LEAD IT! It’s time! It’s time to lead this football team! It’s your time!’’ When he’d pause, you’d hear nothing—not even a cough. It’s hard to read the mood and feelings of 90 men, of course. But the players’ focus is a sign, to me, that Garrett’s still got the attention of his team, after back-to-back disappointing 8-8 years.
• The son of a coach talks like a coach, paces like a coach and warns that players had better be able to take coaching. “The coaches I hate—that I had a visceral reaction to—were the guys who told me, ‘You’re doing a great job.’ … And allowing me to be as mediocre as mediocre could be,” Garrett said. “None of us need help being mediocre—especially me. Coach my ass! … You been to the Pro Bowl eight times? You’re getting your ass coached. You just got here 15 minutes ago? You’re getting your ass coached. First-round picks, free agents who signed for nothing—everybody’s getting coached.”
• Ever notice the NFL’s getting more and more careful with every utterance? Garrett wants to keep it that way. With the media, Garrett said, players should be “respectful, brief, boring and humble … Distinguish yourself with your play, not what you say.” My favorite thing of everything Garrett said is about tuning out the distractions that flood every NFL locker room. “Don’t listen to the noise,” he said. “Think Einstein listened to the noise? Think Martin Luther King listened to the noise? Be strong enough mentally, be strong enough physically” to tune the distractions out.
“We’re gonna establish an identity that lasts forever,” Garrett told his players. “That starts today.”
Our site, and football America, owe Jones and Garrett (and Cowboys PR VP Rich Dalrymple) a debt of thanks for educating fans on the hidden ritual that, this morning, is no longer hidden.
Bryan Broaddus joins Gina Miller on TXA 21 to discuss some of the biggest storylines heading into the 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys training camp. (Duration: 3:01)