New for the 2012 season under the CBA is a sort of mini-minicamp just before training camp gets underway. For the Dallas Cowboys, who open training camp in Oxnard, California, on July 30th, this will take place at the Valley Ranch facility on July 25th. Reporting early will be the quarterbacks, rookies, and injured players.
I was a little curious about just what "injured players" meant. This is what I found in the CBA (page 134):
(1) were on the Injured Reserve, Physically Unable to Perform or Nonfootball Injury or Illness list at the end of the previous season; or (2) failed a physical examination given by a team physician at any time after the last game of the previous season; or (3) sustained a football-related or nonfootball-related injury or illness during the offseason; or (4) had surgery during the offseason regarding a football or nonfootball-related condition regardless of when such condition arose
This would seem to mean that most of the players who were unable to participate in the minicamp will get a few days of work before training camp to get caught up at least a little.
I wasn't sure why the quarterbacks were also allowed, until it occurred to me: There is not much you can practice without a QB, so unless they are allowed to attend, the whole thing would be pretty worthless.
More about things after the jump.
Dallas still has some limitations, since this is still not a fully representative sample of positions. Jason Garrett talked a bit about what the team plans to do.
"What we're going to try to do is create an environment for the players who are there where it can be really beneficial for them," head coach Jason Garrett said. "We're not going to have quite the complement of linemen that we want, so we'll probably be more in a 7-on-7 type of situation throughout practice. There will be a little bit of team work, but there will be a lot of individual work.
"Really what you want to do is get these guys back and say, this is Day 1 all over again, and they start it up. You try to transition these guys as best you can. It's all new to them."
Rob Phillips | DallasCowboys.com
Still, after the lack of any offseason work last year, any time the team gets to work with players is good. And this will also include players like DeMarco Murray, Felix Jones, Dan Connor and Raymond Radway, so there is going to be some talent there besides Tony Romo and Kyle Orton. I would imagine all those injured and late reporting draftees are extremely eager to get any work they can. Another benefit is that with the smaller number involved, the coaches can put in some extra time with each player. Wisely used, this could be very beneficial exercise.
And it may be a time for some people we have not talked about much to make a move, or at least try to catch the coaches' eyes. The math of camp is cruel. With 90 players on the roster to start, at least 29 will have to be cut to get down to the final 53 plus the practice squad. If the team signs anyone off the street, they bump another Cowboy hopeful to the curb. Something that has been remarked on throughout the OTA and minicamp period is that almost none of the people currently with the team has a "camp body" mentality. Every one of them is taking their best shot at making the team. Nick Eatman at DallasCowboys.com took a look at, as he put it , 5 Guys Flying Way Under The Radar. There usually is one or two of the players that seem to come out of nowhere and make the team, à la Alex Albright and Phillip Tanner from last year. Eatman gives us some candidates for this kind of emergence, like this one:
G Harland Gunn - A rookie free agent from Miami, Gunn somewhat resembles fellow undrafted rookie Ron Leary, but Jerry Jones certainly didn't mention his name in the post-draft press conference like he did Leary. And he's definitely rotating first-team snaps at guard like Leary. Gunn needs to take advantage of those late preseason game snaps.
In the meantime, we will try to keep you informed of what is going on with Dallas, as we all count the days until training camp gets under way. At least, all of us helplessly addicted Cowboys junkies. Hi, I'm Tom.