2012 training camp is about to start for the Dallas Cowboys.
The city of Oxnard has decked out Ventura Boulevard with welcome banners on every lamppost; final touches were put to the fan parking lots today; the tents and trucks for the traditional Midway/Fun Zone are in place; and the Cowboys have had their opening press conference in Oxnard in which Coach Jason Garrett said that the Cowboys are "building a championship team."
That and more after the break.
Here's Garrett's opening statement from today's press conference, transcribed from the video at dallascowboys.com:
To me, one of the points of emphasis that we make with out football team, all throughout the offseason and certainly this time of year is we’re trying to build something here.
We believe we’re building a championship team here in Dallas. I think 31 other teams around the league feel the same way. We feel like it’s important to bring the right people in to the organization, coaches and players, and do things the right way on a daily basis.
I think we had an outstanding offseason. Mike Woicik and his staff, the strength and conditioning program is outstanding. I also thought the football-phase of our offseason was outstanding, with our OTAs and our minicamp work – the work we did on the field.
But that’s done; we laid a nice foundation; we’ve got to continue to lay that foundation here at training camp. It’s a great time of year. You’re trying to build a championship team, a championship program, and you do it one day at a time, and training camp is the best place to do it.
We feel like we have the right people in place. We’ve got to go about it the right way each and every day and that’s what we’re going to try to emphasize to our team.
They’re going to hear me over and over and over again; players are going to hear it from me; coaches are going to hear it from me; we’re going to try to do that on a daily basis. And you guys have heard me say it a couple of times: we’re going to try to stack some good days on top of each other and build the team the right way to give ourselves the chance to be a good football team in 2012.
Some other highlights from today in Oxnard:
- Jason Garrett remarked on how two thirds of all NFL games are within 8 points in the 4th-quarter. The Cowboys were in 11 such contests and Garrett believes the Cowboys will improve in that area this year through personnel moves, a better running game and better pass defense.
- Garrett noted the 2012 Cowboys camp is the 23rd of his career, and that based on that experience, he observed that the Cowboys "have excellent leadership on this team." That, coupled with an emphasis on mental toughness, will be the key holding fourth-quarter leads more successfully.
- After the press conference, Stephen Jones said that the Cowboys are currently planning to have Dez Bryant return punts and Felix Jones to return kickoffs.
- When talking about Mike Jenkins, Jerry Jones talked at length about using a rotation at cornerback, and about his willingness to "write a cheque for a good football player." Asked whether Jenkins sounded like he was buying it when Jones told him that, Jones answered in the affirmative: "Yes." Jones also noted that Jenkins may be warming to a future in Dallas.
- In addition to his hip surgery, it turns out that Mackenzy Bernadeau also had a minor knee surgery.
Here's another quote form Garrett from today's press conference that will likely go unreported, but is near and dear to my heart.
We have great fans in Dallas. You can go all over the world: It was early July, and there was an election in Mexico. On the front cover of the New York Times, above the fold, was a picture of a woman putting her ballot in the ballot box in Mexico City. She had a Dallas Cowboys sweatshirt on. I thought it was pretty interesting.
We have fans everywhere. We as an organization take our commitment to putting a team together that our fans and anyone involved in our organization can be proud of, we take that responsibility very seriously.
I am one of those fans, traveling over 6,000 miles from Germany to Oxnard in a 23-hour trip to be a part of camp for one week. And I am just one of countless international fans of the Cowboys, most of whom will never get the opportunity to see the Cowboys live, much less set foot on US soil. We are out there.
Yet when I ordered a Cowboys sweatshirt from the NFL shop on June 5, not only did I have to pay a ridiculous $51.90 in shipping and handling for a $29.97 sweatshirt, but eight weeks later the sweatshirt still hasn't arrived. For that S&H charge, my guess is their still handling it somewhere, jst to justify the price.
I went to church in Oxnard this morning, attending the Oxnard Church of the Nazarene. After the service, I talked briefly with the Pastor, and as the talk quickly turned to the Cowboys, Pastor Josh said he'll try to attend camp this week as well. That's a good thing. We'll need all the divine intervention we can get this year.
Question of the day: Below are five weather forecasts for tomorrow. Which one sounds like a good place to have training camp?