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With veterans on hand, Cowboys' rookies put in place

FRISCO, Texas -- During the weekend, the Dallas Cowboys' rookies were the apples of the coaches’ eyes at minicamp.

This week, the attention goes from full-time to part-time with the veterans back at The Star for the offseason program.

“The biggest thing is they’re behind from a knowledge standpoint, from an expertise standpoint, so they’ve got to catch up there every way they can,” coach Jason Garrett said. “They’re behind from a conditioning standpoint. Our guys have been in the offseason program for a month now so the guys have to go catch up in a lot of different ways, but they’re going about it the right way.”

The Cowboys have their final on-field teaching sessions this week on Tuesday and Thursday with the veterans. Next, the organized team activities, which include 11-on-11 work between the offense and the defense, begin over a three-day span.

The rookies went through two practices last Friday and Saturday and had a walkthrough on Sunday as they were introduced to the Cowboys’ schemes for the first time.

With the veterans on hand, the learning pace needs to quicken. The rookies can be on the field more than the veterans to help accelerate the learning.

“We never want to ease anybody into anything,” Garrett said. “Obviously, there is a transition period for these guys, they just got here [last Thursday]. The biggest thing we try to do is lay out the expectations for what we want in all parts of our football team, again, how we meet, how we walk through, how we practice, how we conduct ourselves on and off the field. We try to be abundantly clear with that and then we start giving them information. You start with the basics, you start with the fundamental stuff, but you move quickly and you hold them accountable to what that information is.”

Garrett finds the transitioning of the rookies one of the best part of coaching.

“It’s a great challenge as a coach because they know nothing coming in here and so everything we do, every meeting, every walk through, every practice we have to explain to them what we want, what the expectations are and then make it come alive,” Garrett said. “We do believe we drafted and signed some really good kids. They’re receptive to the coaching, but it’s a fun time for us to back to the beginning, back to the basic and fundamentals and explain it, coach it and see if we can make them better.”