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Why Jason Garrett altered Cowboys' rookie camp schedule

IRVING, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys welcomed their rookies to the NFL on Thursday night with a team meeting. They introduced them to the practice field Friday, but they did not introduce them to 11-on-11 work.

It’s part of a new plan coach Jason Garrett has implemented.

“If you remember the last couple years at training camp, the first couple days of camp, we haven’t gone 11-on-11 against each other,” Garrett said. “It’s really the same idea. We let these guys get their football feet and football legs underneath them, movement without getting into competitive situations. We’ll see how they respond to that. You might see some one-on-ones before the weekend’s out.”

In the past, the Cowboys have seen a high number of injuries. The heat would knock down some of the players after months and months of working out to get ready for a draft, not playing football.

The hope is that easing the rookies into their transition will help them as they get acquainted with the veterans.

The players went through a morning walk-through and the practice focused on individual and group drills.

“It was more about getting them acclimated with our system of football, what we do and how we do it,” Garrett said.

Most of the rookies will remain through the end of the minicamp, including second-round pick Jaylon Smith, who will continue his rehab from a serious knee injury with the Cowboys’ athletic training staff. Garrett said first-rounder Ezekiel Elliott is expected to remain with the team as well.

“You bring talented people in, you coach them hard, they’re going to get better and better, and so every day you miss being in that environment is going to hurt you,” Garrett said. “Sometimes an academic schedule at the university, we can’t get around that. These are valuable days for they’ll grown exponentially day by day.”