Dallas Cowboys Training Camp Press Conference

[Note]: A very rough paraphrase of the Jerry Jones and Jason Garrett press conference for the opening of training camp in San Antonio. [End Note]        

PR Guy: We can't confirm signings, releases or roster moves, or comment on them, until Friday afternoon. Press conference at 11:20 CST every morning during camp.

Jerry Jones:

On the labor deal ---

Strengthens the league for high school to college players to guys in the league, this agreement is for 10 years and is historic in sports, no opt-out clause, that's historic. The substance is in place for the NFL to have a great future. Everybody in business is re-evaluating their models for economic sanity. We changed the model, this model addresses incentive, players will make more money than under the old agreement. This agreement grows the pie. In football you're either going up or going down, there is no standing still. This agreement makes the NFL go up.

It does address the physical aspect of the game, there is no faking this game, but we found ways to get players out on the field more and hopefully have fewer injuries. Economics of the game were dramatically affected by injuries. All this was addressed. This will make players fresher and healthier, and we'll have better games. The facts are we're in a different world of preparation for players, their speed, size of the players.

We made a recognition about the costs of the facilities, costs involved in marketing and selling tickets, the way to promote a team, besides the obvious one of winning, is to market it in a positive way. There will be a bigger pie because of this CBA. It wasn't about winners, but improvement of the league. I wished it could have happened in a week or a month, but that's not real, these things needed to be negotiated. It's been a learning experience and was privileged to be involved. I congratulate Roger Goodell and DeMaurice Smith. Proud of everyone.

Much more below...

Jerry Jones:

About training camp---

Welcome to camp. I believe, being a half-full guy, it was a big positive to have our players go out and practice in the offseason, doing conditioning, looking at the defensive and offensive philosophies. They had to take it on their own shoulders and go out on their own. It's a learning experience having to do it on their own. Whether they were doing OTAs or conditioning, I believe they have improved, I think they are fresher. Many coaches thought we did too much work before, some substantial people I respect said that. Pre-season games, the vets will likely have to play more to get reps. We also need to get rookies incorporated into the games. These pre-season games could be interesting to fans. A new twist on them this year.

We are coning off a bad year, we stunk it up last year, we're making hard decisions, and we'll make more over the next few days. Our advantage, our head coach is a young head coach, he hasn't spent 20 years doing the same thing, with built-in habits. Being smart and young, you roll with the flow, a great advantage for us. We have continuity with Jason being a coordinator and coach last year, but I like his ability to think on his feet.

Jason Garrett: Excited to be here, long offseason for a lot of people, I commend the owners and players who got this thing right. We missed the players and being around them, but the business was done well. We're in training camp on time. Excited about the team, the new players, and direction we're going. Time to go to work, lots of conversation over personnel and how to use them. Now we stop talking, and get to work. That's the message to the team.

Stephen Jones: League gave us calendar that we're working through. Monday we started doing business, with rookies and draft picks, get those guys to a point to participate. More work on signing draft picks with the changes in wage scale. Expect to sign them real soon, today or tomorrow. Vets, we have a window starting Tues thru Fri. to set the parameters, can't sign them right now, we have a strategy we're using to get better as a team, part of that is our cap situation. We got to work thru that, we can manage it, some players will be waived, official announcements not until Friday. Could trickle into next week into camp.

Q. Believe this is the best way to prepare a team under the new practice rules?

JG: Coaches prepare in different ways. Ask a coach about padded practices, some say yes, some say no, there is a certain amount of freedom coaches want. If you look at the rules, there is a tremendous amount of flexibility in those parameters. I don't feel shortchanged. You have to re-work your thinking, we went right to work to go within those parameters

You can practice in full pads, and we'll do that this time of year, we'll do that. Allowed to have 4 hours of on-the-field work, no longer than 3 hours for one practice, the rest in a walkthrough. We've never exceeded that. Just structure practices different.  

Play vets more in preseason?

JG: We lost a lot of reps from no OTA and mini-camp, we'll adjust accordingly. This is Day 1, the first practice. We'll get into flow of camp first, then adjust for pre-season games.

Did coaching last season help you for this year?

JG: There is a certain way we'll do things. Even in a normal offseason, the message is the same, a fast tempo, a sense of urgency, put good days together.

How are the decisions made on personnel moves?

JG: Personnel decisions are organizational decisions, football issues and finance issues make for lively conversations. We have those and make organizational decisions.

Are the players in shape?

JG: We always do conditioning tests at the start of camp. It will be interesting to see where they are in conditioning, we'll weigh them, check body fat and stuff, but the conditioning test will be a gauge.

Player-led practices?

JG: I think good things happen when coaches walk off the field and players work together on their own. A QB and a WR work, or other guys do it. Coaches are gone, you work on things. Because we couldn't be out there, we believe that happened a lot on our team. They got together and it's beneficial.

Last season, how do you get past it?

JG: It's a new season, so we're a new football team, each year the dynamics change, you can have continuity, we do on offense and kicking game. Rob has a challenge to install his defense, for the most part they will have to learn it quickly. Coaches need to adjust and hit the ground running. We're a smart team, we have the right kind of guys.

What do you have to do better this year to improve?

JG: We have to do everything better; offense, defense, kicking game, take care of the ball, getting the ball from them, practice better, finish games better, I can keep going.

1-7 start last year, why?

JG: Last year is last year, we're moving forward, we can learn from it. But we're going to talk about 2011. Importance of training camp to lay a foundation. Understand where we are on calendar, get going, think about today and get going.

Romo, different guy this offseason?

JG: When you're a player and have the opportunity to play QB, it's an all-encompassing, consuming, position, you're at the forefront of everything. When that's taken away, you have to put on the brakes and emotionally detach, then re-engage from a new view. Once you can do that, you can learn by watching other people, remind yourself of the opportunity and be ready. Don't get me wrong, Romo gets ready, but when the perspective changes some, you can re-energize. We had no concerns anyway about that, but he took a glass half-full attitude and gained from it. When players are together without coaches it's good, and if the QB is the leader of the sessions, you benefit.

Dez Bryant?

JG: Dez made such an impact last year. He hadn't played a ton of football from the end of college, then he was injured in training camp, he didn't really practice until the first week of the season. Then he did what he did. He did so many good things without a lot of work, we think he can grow and grow. He plays with passion, we as coaches love it, his teammates love it. Talented as he is, he will get more of an opportunity.

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