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Joint Cowboys Chargers Training Camp Practices Not As Common As You May Think

Phillip Tanner had his most distinguishing moment so far in a preseason game against the Chargers last year. Ironically, it was called back by a penalty.
Phillip Tanner had his most distinguishing moment so far in a preseason game against the Chargers last year. Ironically, it was called back by a penalty.

When the Dallas Cowboys and San Diego Chargers announced in early May that they would hold joint practice sessions in San Diego from Aug. 20-21, it hardly warranted a mention here on BTB, only making it to the frontpage as one item among many in one of our news roundups.

One of the reason the joint practices are not receiving a lot of attention is that this will be the second straight year the Chargers and Cowboys have scheduled these practices. This year though, instead of having them in the Texas heat, the two practices will be held in San Diego following the two teams' preseason game on August 18.

And while joint practices with other teams aren't scheduled every year, the Cowboys have frequently had these practices in the past with the likes of the Broncos and Raiders, so much so that a joint practice feels like the norm for the Cowboys. But a look around the league indicates that for most teams, joint practices are the exception, not the norm.

This year, in addition to the Cowboys/Chargers it looks like only the Chiefs/Cardinals and Falcons/Titans will have joint practices, while the Patriots and Saints are still in discussion about potential joint workouts. But that's about it.

After the break, find out why Matt Bowen from the National Football Post thinks joint practices are a good idea, and why more teams should schedule them.

Matt Bowen, a former safety in the NFL,argues that joint practices are a great tool in the evaluation process because they provide more competition and more opportunity to practice (and show up on film) in a "live" environment:

Think of it this way: these joint practices are scripted. You can get 15 plays in the red zone, work the 4-minute drill, 3rd downs and also dedicate time to special teams in a competitive setting. The coaching staffs have control over the game situations they script during these practice or scrimmage sessions - unlike the preseason schedule.

There is no guarantee your first or second unit will get to work on their 2-minute package or use their goal line personnel under the lights during the preseason. It all depends on the flow of the game, number of reps, etc.

Much different when you meet up with an opposing club during camp. Multiple reps for the entire depth chart and a much higher level of competition than players will see on a daily basis practicing against their own teammates.

The trick with these joint practices of course is to not let them degenerate into a two-day brawl, as they often did when the Cowboys and Raiders met up in the 90s. At that time, the joint practices were largely a product of the close relationship Jerry Jones had with Al Davis.

Under Garrett, I can't help but feel that these joint practices will be designed as an intergarl part of "the process". At last year's joint practices, Garrett said:

"Sometimes you can get comfortable working against the same guys. It’s fun to shock the system a little bit."

And as Bowen points out in his article, because the practices are scipted, each team gets to practice exactly what they want - against NFL caliber competition. And you'd think that more teams would be having these practices, but that doesn't appear to be the case. Perhaps that's because the type of mutual give-and-take necessary to make these joint practices work requires a certain level of trust between the two practicing teams that not many teams may have.

But Jason Garrett seems to have that level of trust and familiarity with Chargers Coach Norv Turner, a relationship that can make the practices beneficial for both teams as the San Diego Union Tribune writes:

[Norv Turner] has a strong, almost brotherly relationship with Cowboys coach Jason Garrett. Their families are close, and the two won a Super Bowl together in the 1993 season, when Turner was Dallas' offensive coordinator and Garrett was a reserve quarterback behind Troy Aikman.

"I think it helps when you have that kind of background and history with people," Turner said. "They know what we're trying to get done, and we know what they want to get done. We're not coming in here to try to use somebody. Both want to walk away having it been beneficial to both teams."

And who knows, the Chargers might have a second Laurent Robinson waiting for the Cowboys to pick up: Only this time the Chargers' castaway may be a tight end instead of a receiver: Norv Turner currently has seven tight ends on the roster where the Cowboys only have five (and five already feels like a lot).

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