OXNARD, Calif. -- When the Dallas Cowboys hold their first training camp practice on Saturday, the offense and defense will not work against each other. The Cowboys will have the same practice format on Sunday.
Coach Jason Garrett moved to this schedule a few years ago to make sure players were acclimated to football before they moved into full-speed drills.
"We have this offseason program with the guys where we build up to having nine [organized team activity] practices and three minicamp practices and then the players are away," Garrett said. "They're gone for five weeks. And our guys are working out. They work out together. They get themselves ready, but they haven't been playing football against another NFL player. We just think it's in the best interests to be deliberate when we start camp and let them get their football feet, their football legs underneath them."
It's a far cry from training camps of yesteryear where players were in pads twice a day for weeks, but Garrett does not see it as a bad thing
"I believe this from the bottom of my heart: Football is as safe as it's ever been," Garrett said. "And our league has done an amazing job putting safety first and there's so many different things they've done to that end -- obviously rules changes, equipment changes and just how we operate on a day-to-day basis. I think they've made our game better.
"One of the things that's happened is we practice less. We don't practice as much in the gear that we play the games in as we used to. But at the end of the day, this is how we do it. ... We have to make the best of it and help take full advantage of this opportunity that we do, in fact, have. That's really our approach to it. We don't think oftentimes about the good old days. That really doesn't do anybody any good. We focus on what the rules are now and we create the best environment for our players and our team."
Things change on Monday.
"We'll get the pads on on Monday," Garrett said, "and we'll get after each other a little bit."