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Marking a milestone

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Ever since the season-ending loss to the St. Louis Rams - or more precisely, an hour before that when we were knocked out of the playoffs - Dallas Cowboys fans have been hungry for a new season. The early promise of the 2005 season, when the Cowboys were 7-3, became a nightmare as Dallas stumbled badly down the home-stretch. Not only did we miss the playoffs, but we got our spurs handed to us by archrival Washington in an ugly massacre at Fed Ex field. The agony of that stretch run, the utter collapse of a team that we were all sure was a playoff contender, has made this offseason a slow march back to respectability.

I bring this up because we have reached an important milestone. The Dallas Cowboys will actually start practicing today. Sure it's only a rookie mini-camp, but it's real players practicing for the 2006 season. We spent a lot of time waiting for free agency to begin, and the NFL labor situation turned that into a painful wait. Then we turned our attention to everybody's favorite offseason activity, the NFL draft.

Today represents something totally different. Today marks the milestone of on the field preparation, not choosing players and negotiating contracts, but honest to goodness on the field work. Bobby Carpenter will be wearing a Cowboys uniform and bringing Bill Parcells water while Jerry Jones tells us how good Anthony Fasano is looking so far. From this humble beginning, the 2006 season will be birthed.

So while it's not as exciting as landing new players or getting value in the 5th round of the draft, it is what football is all about. Players on the practice field working up a good sweat in the Texas heat.

Don't talk to me about contracts anymore, just go out and hit someone.

Rookie Camp Participants

Draft Picks (8)
Bobby Carpenter, LB, Ohio State (6-2, 254)
Anthony Fasano, TE, Notre Dame (6-4, 258)
Jason Hatcher, DE, Grambling (6-6, 284)
Skyler Green, WR/KR, LSU (5-9, 192)
Pat Watkins, S, Florida State (6-5, 211)
Montavious Stanley, DT, Louisville (6-2, 313)
Pat McQuistan, OT, Weber State (6-6, 314)
E.J. Whitley, C/G, Texas Tech (6-5, 309)

Rookie Free Agents (10)
Sam Hurd, WR, Northern Illinois (6-2, 187)
Jeff Mroz, QB, Yale (6-5, 230)
John Saldi, LB, Texas Tech (6-5, 233)
Miles Austin, WR, Monmouth (6-3, 219)
Kai Parham, LB, Virginia (6-3, 253)
Dennis Roland, OT, Georgia (6-9, 309)
Oliver Hoyte, LB, North Carolina St. (6-3, 247)
Erik Gill, TE, Pittsburgh (6-5, 275)
Stephen Bowen, DE, Hofstra (6-5, 271)
Darrell Brooks, S, Arizona (6-1, 192)

Invited For Workout (9)
Quincy Butler, CB, TCU (6-1, 191)
Nick Noce, QB, Arkansas State (6-3, 206)
D.D. Lee, LB, SMU (6-0, 235)
Chris McMurtray, K, SMU (6-1, 228)
Marcus King, CB, Missouri (5-9, 199)
J.J. Horne, OLB, Pittsburgh (6-2, 240)
Brian Claybourn, P, Western Kentucky (6-1, 183)
Demetrius Summers, RB, South Carolina (5-11, 214)
Ronald Jones, CB, Texas A&M (5-9, 190)