Jason Garrett wants competition at Cowboys minicamp

Dez Bryant will be kept out of team drills at minicamp as the Cowboys continue to be careful with their star WR. AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez

IRVING, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys open their three-day minicamp today and there is just one difference between it and the nine organized team activities they held the previous three weeks.

The coaches and players get to meet after the practice.

Coach Jason Garrett has set up the practices to look like a regular-season week, with today’s work simulating what they would do on a regular-season Wednesday and so on through a shorter practice on Thursday that deals with short-yardage and the red-zone work of a regular-season Friday.

The competition

The pads will remain in the equipment room, per offseason rules, but Garrett liked what he saw during the OTAs in terms of the competitive nature of practice. In the final OTA last week, the first-team offense was able to draw a first down on a holding penalty on Byron Jones. Jason Witten clapped over Jones as the second-year safety pounded the grass in frustration.

“We’re trying to build our team,” Garrett said. “One of the things we want are guys who are naturally competitive, we want guys who thrive in those kind of situations. It’s our job as coaches to create some of those situations because they come up every week in the NFL. As you’re building your team, you’re running your plays, installing your defense, you’re doing what you’re doing schematically and technically and the kicking game, you also have to work these game situations. You want guys who want to compete in these situations.

"It’s always tricky cause we have helmets and jerseys on, we all know that, so we talk about competing the right way in practice and understanding he’s your teammate. But we also try to put them in the situations and see how everybody responds. It’s a great way to build your team and grow your team to get better in those situations, it’s also a great way to evaluate players to see how they handle those situations.”

What will Dez Bryant do?

Bryant will not be involved in any team drills. Garrett ruled that out last week, but he said Bryant could do more in the minicamp. He went through individual drills one day last week. Will he do that again? Can he take part in 7-on-7 drills? To Bryant’s credit he has remained patient in his recovery from January surgery to add more bone graft to his right foot. When training camp begins the expectation is Bryant will be cleared for everything. That’s when it will matter most.

Will they show?

Rolando McClain missed the OTAs because of family reasons, according to Garrett. Jerry Jones said the Cowboys cut McClain some “slack,” which might have caught the coach by surprise and upset some teammates. Ronald Leary missed the OTAs because he wants to be traded to a team where he can start. Will those players report to minicamp? If they don’t, it will cost them. Missing the first day would cost them a fine of $12,675. The second day would cost them $25,525. The third day would cost $38,290. It’s doubtful either would want to forfeit money ($76,580 total) for the only mandatory part of the offseason, but stranger things have happened. Even if they do show, then the Cowboys would likely (smartly?) limit their work in camp for fear of injury.

Pass-rush help

For most of the offseason I’ve been trying to find that guy you know very little about but who shows a little something to make you take notice. It finally happened last week. Defensive end Michael McAdoo had a sack in last week’s OTAs in which he was just a blur off the snap. He had his college career end early at North Carolina by academic scandal. He was not selected in the 2011 supplemental draft and signed with the Baltimore Ravens, where he got hurt. He spent 2013 playing in the CFL. He played in the Arena Football League last year before signing with the Cowboys. He has a long way to go, but when the pads come on in training camp it will be interesting to see if he still has that jump he showed last week.