The Cowboys are ramping up their preparations in Oxnard for the 2019 season. As is customary, Jason Garrett will hold regular press conferences throughout the team’s time at training camp. Here is the recap of today’s press conference. (All answers are paraphrased and not actual quotes).
Can you put Dak Prescott’s accomplishments into context on his birthday, age 26?
We wished him happy birthday, he’s accomplished a lot. He and I are alike, he’s thinking about today’s practice and nothing else. What makes him good is focusing on the now and going forward.
Impact of Gil Brandt?
Legendary figure, to football in general, and to the Dallas Cowboys, to all the coaches, scouts he’s impacted. Revolutionary figure, because the way he and the Cowboys were doing things before anybody else did them. He and the Cowboys did this in early 60s, the ways of evaluating players, putting teams together, how to write scouting reports, all of those things have become models for others. His impact is long-lasting. Paul Brown gets credit for so many innovations like practice film, playbooks, etc. Gil Brandt is similar, he’s a part of what teams do today.
The pads coming on today, who are you interesting in seeing, guys like Travis Frederick?
It’s a day we’re excited to see everyone, vets and younger guys, Excited to see where the team is. After the offseason program, we’re excited to play football, practice the fundamental stuff. It will be a physical practice.
What does it say about Sean Lee that he’ll play special teams?
It goes back to my first impression of him when I first met him at a 30-player visit. He had a look in his eye like he’s crazy, he loves ball, he wants to be great, he wants to take advantage of opportunities. He has a positive impact, an outstanding player. He’s even a better person than player, his leadership is off the charts. Doesn’t surprise me one bit he’ll play special teams.
He’s highly respected in the locker room, no stone unturned. He’s here early and stays late, engages with others. Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith, and other guys see that.
Were you surprised when Jason Witten returned?
I was not surprised because how much he loves the game. It is in the core of his being, He feels he left a little meat on the bone, so he listened to his heart and came back. Like Sean Lee he loves the game, a leader, positive impact on team.
Is there a specific way you might use Witten?
He can play every down and situation, he blocks, he’s hard to guard, he shows great poise, can communicate with others, all of that is positive. He can work in any situation. Helps the younger tight ends, too.
How do you balance Witten and plying someone like Blake Jarwin?
Competition. It brings out the best in players. Competition over starters and roles, we find who will play on the practice field. You can have two or three tight ends in a game at a time, so there are many roles and responsibilities.
How has Rod Marinelli evolved as a coach?
When I first met him I was still playing, when he was in front of the room you thought “wow who is this guy?” So much respect for him, everybody who knows hims loves and respects him. He has strong convictions that he’s carried through his career. His greatness is he can evolve and connect with any player. He holds younger guys to high standards and they respect that. He’s a special guy.
He grows when he plays, we really liked him out of school, he was always around the play. PBUs, interceptions, fumble recoveries. He’s quiet by nature, initially we thought is this the same guy? But things started to click in for him early last year and he started to have a presence, then communicated better with others and helped the defense.
What is special about DeMarcus Lawrence?
Starts with who he is, he’s hungry, loves the game. If you study pass rushes and sacks, some come on uniqueness and moves, but so many come just from determination. He’s got that in spades. He has ability and athleticism, but it’s really about determination. We found out about that in his rookie year when he recovered a fumble in the playoff game against Detroit then basically gave it back. A few plays later made a great sack that sealed the game.
What are the best traits for a center?
The center has to be a leader, he has to understand the offense as much as anybody, must have command. Been around great ones and they are in charge, they help the whole offensive unit. Of course they need to have physical traits to play, footwork and technique, it’s a challenging spot, we’re fortunate we have a good one. Travis is a smart guy, such a presence.
Travis was so engaged last year with our football team last year. He was at every meeting walk-thru, he developed a coaching demeanor. He helped Looney, Colombo, etc.
When you saw him early last year in training camp and on tape, did you think something was wrong?
We did say that, that something was wrong. He was on the ground more than he had ever been. You say he’ll get going, but he didn’t have the same spirit. Everybody did a great job of finally figuring it out. How he and everybody handled it was off the charts.
Do you have a veteran’s day off schedule?
We have a preliminary schedule. Frederick and Cobb won’t practice today. We want to give some veterans time off.