OXNARD, Calif. – For those unaware of how the NFL wants training camp conducted nowadays, seeing the Cowboys open with an hour-long walkthrough in the morning and a two-hour session in the afternoon without pads must be jarring.
Some might call it evolution.
The days of two-a-day, full pad practices have been gone for some time and now the league legislates a three-day acclimation period at the starting training camp in which teams cannot wear pads.
“If you look back on the history of football, I think the guys who used to play and coach a long time ago probably think that everybody after them is really soft,” coach Jason Garrett said Monday.
The Cowboys will open the afternoon sessions with what Garrett calls “blue” practices for the younger players and backups with the veterans and starters coming out for the final two hours. The early portion of practice gives work to players who would not see much practice reps because of the veteran presence and it gives the veterans more intense if shorter work.
Garrett suffered through the Jimmy Johnson practices in the early 1990s in extreme Austin, Texas, heat and he is trying to get the team he coaches now to have the same feelings even without pads.
“That was the nature of the time and the nature of our football team,” Garrett said. “None of us liked it at the time. I think we all benefited from it. Believe it or not, we’re trying to create the same kind of environment within the rules that the NFL has for us in this day and age. … We feel like a rigorous training camp helps our football team get ready for the challenges of a season.”