By now, the fact that the Cowboys practiced in full pads yesterday has made the rounds among Cowboys fans, and many fans were nodding vigorously and pumping their fists in the air when they heard/read this news.
But what does it mean for the players? Matt Bowen (no relation to Stephen) of the National Football Post provides this perspective on what a full-pad practice in November means to the players:
Full gear in November? The easiest way to grab the attention of the locker room. From a former player’s perspective, no one wants to put on full pads during the final two months of the season. You look up at the grease board right outside of the equipment room and see the words "full pads," your attitude changes.
You are not going to coast through practice today, "tag" off on ball carriers or jog through run-fits at an easy pace. Full pads means time to hit, usually an extended 9-on-7 period (inside run drill) and a full speed practice. I had no problem with it as a player—when that was the routine from the head coach. But I would bet that some of those Cowboys’ players had a hard time putting those thigh boards in their practice pants.
So how did all this go down with the players? Roy Williams, never at a loss for words, but also perhaps one of the few players who have earned the right to speak up this season, summarizes what he thinks about the new Garret regime in his own unique style:
"Hard-ass, hard-butt," Williams said. "And I like it."
Read what other players had to say after the break.
Keith Brooking, one of 'Wade's guys', has quickly taken to the new regime.
"Regardless of who is leading us, you have to come to work each day with that lunch-pail mentality every day," Cowboys linebacker Keith Brooking said. "I believe in Jason Garrett. Obviously, his experience as a player, a coach, the stuff he's had in both of those areas, it's very evident when he stands up in front of us and talks and delivers his message.
"There is zero gray area there. It is black and white, very direct and to the point, concise, no misunderstanding. I've been hit in the head a lot, but I could understand what he is saying when he stood up there and communicated to our football team. I believe in anybody like that."
Stephen Bowen commented on the pace of practice, which started 45 minutes earlier than usual, and saw all players running from drill to drill, in full pads:
"Nobody sitting on the coolers, stuff like that," defensive end Stephen Bowen said. "Just everybody alert, paying attention."
ESPN's Matt Mosely caught this little snippet, also from Stephen Bowen:
"He was very passionate," defensive tackle Stephen Bowen said of Garrett. "He's played the game at this level, so he knows what we're going through. ... Everybody liked it, everybody was ready to go out and do their job. He got everybody going."
Right after that, Mosely apparently ran into Dez Bryant on his way to lunch.
"Much more intense," he said before showing great acceleration toward the lunch room.
Mike Jenkins, who has received a ton of criticism for his performance against the Packers, understands what time it is. In as clear a sign of the times as we'll see as fans, Jenkins brought a notebook to the meeting to write down what Garrett had to say. Apparently for the first time since his rookie season.
"The thing I got from Jason today is if you don't do it, we got somebody to replace you, no matter who you are," Jenkins said. "If you don't learn it, you on the bench. ... It's a new day for me. It's a new day for everybody. It's a new coach, a new start. That is what we are focused on right now. We are going to run with it."
Anthony Spencer, Wade' first number one pick as a head coach in Dallas, also likes what he's seen so far from Garrett.
Said linebacker Anthony Spencer: "It was good the way he came in and took charge. He got straight to the point. That's definitely what we need."
Still, the bigger concern for the Giants appears to be the emotional lift they expect a coaching change could provide their previously lifeless rivals.
"Talking to my dad and other players, whenever a new coach comes in you feel like you have a new season," said quarterback Eli Manning. "Everything has been erased and you can start over. That's the attitude they're going to have."
And Giants linebacker Keith Bulluck chimes in with similar thoughts.
And finally, in an absolute shocker, Terrell Owens takes Wade Phillips’ side and says Garrett won’t get the job done on Versus’ T.Ocho Show.