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Jason Garrett press conference: New special teams rules, yoga, and what he thinks of his young tight ends

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The head coach keeps us up-to-date on 2018 training camp.

NFL: Dallas Cowboys-Training Camp Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

We’re past the first editions of press conferences, now we’re firmly in the thick of training camp. It feels so good. Today’s practice will be a padded practice, so it should be interesting.

Jason Garrett took the podium on Saturday. Here’s what he had to say.

Upset by Dez Bryant’s comments?

Garrett didn’t have much to say about it, noting that Dez was a great player for this organization, but they’re really focused on the guys they have in camp. Today’s a big day for them with it being the first day in pads and guys are getting cranked up for it so that was where the attention was.

Does it get to be too much? (Anthem stuff, Dez...)

Garrett reiterated that the biggest thing they try to emphasize with the culture that they build is that they focus on themselves each day and what they need to do to be the best players and coaches that they can, to be the best. He believes they believe it and do a good job of it. There’s a lot of noise out there, but his guys do a good job and just come to work. He’s proud of how they’ve started training camp, locked in and focused.

Ever seen yoga on the field?

He stated that he’s seen it at different times in his career and that they used to do it during his playing time in New York. It’s such a big part of getting yourself physically ready to play, just your flexibility. The guys work very hard in the weight room. Garrett said it helps their performance, helps their recovery, and hopefully it’s a positive thing in terms of injury prevention as well.

How often will they do yoga?

Garrett said they will do it on the special teams practice days, four or five times throughout training camp.

How are the players reacting to yoga?

He said they were locked in on it and that they recognize that it can help them.

Is this part of plan to prevent soft tissue injuries?

Garrett said that it’s part of getting themselves ready to play. Flexibility is important. They have different ways that they’ve tried to do it, yoga teachers, strength coaches, or people from the outside. He stated that one of the challenges from the shortened offseason is that there are only so many things you can do. They emphasize the strength and conditioning and the running program so you try to find spots to add these things to your program and the team has embraced it.

Has Garrett tried yoga himself?

He stated that he did in the later part of his playing career when he needed it. There is no question that he feels better once he’s done yoga and encouraged Bill Jones to take advantage of it.

Hope to improve on 2017 with special teams?

Garrett said that it all starts with preventing bad plays and minimize big returns, but at the same time you want to make some of those plays. The league is so balanced and the games are always coming down to something late in the game. If special teams can do something to sway the outcome of the ballgame, that’s want you want. They want to do something that makes a difference and impact the games.

What’s the plan for Terrance Williams?

Jason said that he would be limited over the next week or so and they are being very deliberate with his return. He also indicated that Terrance has done everything the right way and that he really looks good.

What did they like about Joe Thomas?

Garrett mentioned that they had him there before and liked him a lot before Green Bay took him from their practice squad. Thomas is instinctive and has good athletic ability, and can play well in different situations. He’s done a good job embracing his opportunity.

How do you balance the wide receivers with only so many 1st team reps to go around?

Garrett stated that it happens with a lot of positions and that there are a lot of different combinations. They just try to create competition, give everyone an opportunity. Once preseason games roll around, they’ll firm up who is working with the first team and hopefully get some continuity.

What message was he trying to get to his tight ends?

Garrett said they were emphasizing route-running and trying to create a good tempo, and coach them on the run. Detailed route-running is critical. When you have tight ends that are big, it’s important to keep your weight down, keep your shoulders over your toes and all the things you’re looking for. He said they have to fight through it, but they’re working hard and getting better before our eyes.

What does he see in Geoff Swaim?

Garrett said that Swaim is doing a good job and that he’s had a role for them over the last couple of years as a second or third tight end in a lot of their tight end packages. He said that he’s always been someone who’s taking advantage of opportunities, solidifying playing time, and at every turn he can see him getting better and better.

Does he get nervous about his guys coming out in pads?

Garrett said nervous is not a word they are thinking about. They’re excited. This is an important day for them to set the tone. He said they try to be clear with their players about what the expectations are. They don’t want guys on the ground, they’re not tackling, or doing any stuff like that. So they have to channel that excitement. He said the best teams he’s been around are physical teams and that’s the kind of team they want to be.

Seeing any Jason Witten nuances in Dalton Schultz?

Garrett stated that he’s just so young and they haven’t seen him that much, but that Witt’s a pretty good model. Schultz has a serious-minded approach, doing extra on his own, he’s an achiever. He has ability to block, catch passes, and have a role on special teams. There’s a lot to like about him.

Does he see anything different from a player once the pads are on?

Jason said that they have to try their best to take advantage of times when they’re not in pads and they take those opportunities very seriously. They try to teach their players how they want them to function, playing with their hands, feet, and eyes. What separates players is when they put the pads on and they go play real football. They are not going to do that today, but they are going to come off the ball and strike each other.

What has Xavier Woods done to earn more snaps?

Garrett said he was a playmaker. He’s a smart guy who is instinctive, a good tackler, and as he goes, he becomes more comfortable. He’s taken advantage of his opportunities.

Has he blocked out all this Earl Thomas talk?

Garrett said you’d have to ask Thomas about that. He said he knows he’s a serious-minded guy.

Regarding the new special teams rules - how will this kickoff thing play out?

Garrett stated that the rules are really well intended with safety first and foremost. Whether it comes to equipment or new rules, it’s coming from a good place. Smart people had the ideas to do this. The essence of this is that they’re trying to minimize the long running distance of a kickoff cover guy going against a guy trying to block him. They don’t want them running full speed for 50 yards. Those collisions can be really dangerous and the statistics show that. As far as the unintended consequences, he’s not sure. Are teams going to try to take advantage of those eight guys being up and try to mortar kick? He doesn’t know how it’s going to impact personnel. Those are all the questions that are yet to be determined.

He also talked about how they are going to have to address who’s out there, indicating more athletic guys. The double teams and wedge blocks are gone now. He said it will be interesting to see what philosophies are used from the different teams.

Rod Smith’s relationship with Ezekiel Elliott

Garrett said he knows they’re buddies. In some ways, Rod was one of Zeke’s mentors when he got to Ohio State. They have a really good relationship and they like working together. Garrett said that Rod is a good success story, he was a practice squad player, step by step, growing into different roles. He’s worked really hard to get himself to this point. He thinks that his relationship with Zeke is a positive thing and both those guys will have a big role on the football team.