With NFL teams not allowed to conduct their usual offseason practices, Tony Romo and a couple of other veterans have organized a series of players-only workouts that were attended by a league high 40+ players last week.
Initially described as "somewhat organized team activities", Tony Romo talked to reporters at Stonebridge Ranch Country Club in McKinney after trying to qualify for the U.S. Open there and set the record straight on a couple of issues surrounding the workouts.
There will be more workouts in the near future, Romo wants even more players to attend - and that specifically includes the rookies - and yes, there are trainers present at the workouts. After the break we look at what Romo told reporters and what Garrett thinks of these player-only workouts.
NFL.com details Romo's role in the Cowboys' player-run practices:
The sessions, which began last week, aren't just guys hanging out or throwing around balls. They are highly structured, with Romo watching the clock and blowing a whistle at the end of each drill so everyone knows to move on to the next one.
There are walkthrough periods and specific plays to be worked on each day. "It's literally like we're doing the same things we'd be doing at an OTA -- the tempo and everything," Romo said. "I've been around it long enough that I have plenty of schedules laying around my house that I've been able to use for the time frame."
Tom Orsborn from the Express-News reports that Romo wants the rookies to attend as well:
"We're in contact with a couple of guys who have never been. I've talked to one or two guys (draft picks), and I know they are making arrangements as we speak," ESPNDallas.com quoted Romo as saying.
More sessions are expected this week, and Romo hopes to see a hike in attendance. "(Forty) was a great number for starting," Romo said. "We weren't sure what the number was going to be. I know I stressed the importance to everybody, to say the least. I'd say it was just a point we needed to make it important. The guys know that. The guys are committed."
Nick Eatman of the mothership writes that the practices are highly structured
Apparently, Romo is doing some of the leading as well. When asked if he walks around with the air-horn, Romo said he "has the whistle" and also manages the overall time of each drill.
Romo then went into some specifics of the practices. "There's a timeframe," Romo said to the group of reporters. "We have stretch for seven minutes, bam, we get right to pat and go. We move right into move the ball. Guys are jumping in and boom you're at the next play pushing it. The defense splits up then into a walkthrough period through different cards that are set up for the day for the defense and learning the system.''
Efforts are made to duplicate the pace of what takes place during a workout at Valley Ranch. Romo has a whistle to move the players from one station or drill to the next when time is up. There are trainers off to the side -- not on the Cowboys payroll -- in case anyone is hurt. The Cowboys quarterback indicated the players have the capability to tape practices soon.
Jason Garret called in to Pro Football Talk's PFT Live on Monday, and was asked about what he thought about the players-only workouts. Below is a transcript of that Q&A, the full interview can be found here.
Mike Florio: Packers linebacker AJ Hawk very recently has had some harsh comments about the value of the players-led workouts, that it's really not doing anything to get the players ready to play. What's your view on whether or not it's valuable for the players to be out there trying to do things on their own. There are a lot of Cowboys who've been together working out very recently. Do you think that's going to have an value or is that not a substitute for getting the players back into the facility?
Jason Garrett: I don't think it's the same. But I definitely think there are some benefits to doing it. As a player for a number of years, the time that you spend with your teammates out on the practice field, by yourself, working out, is really invaluable.
The relationships you develop, the camaraderie, the cohesion that forms is really critical. And we encourage that with our players in a typical offseason: spend some time after practice, spend some time doing things on your own with your teammates. We believe that's an important part of the process.
It's obviously much more important this year when we're not having the time that we typically would have at Valley Ranch. So I don't think it's the same, but I do think it's important. And it's important to have the kind of guys who have the willingness to do that and understand they're trying to get themselves ready.
This is the time of year for running and lifting and getting your body right, but as this offseason continues, you have to start getting into a little bit of a football mentality too. We believe it's an important thing.