Cowboys Emphasize Technique at Training Camp

Training Camp
Dallas Cowboys Training Camp | Image by Callena Williams/Dallas Cowboys

The Dallas Cowboys returned to the field on Monday for their first padded practice of the year at training camp in Oxnard, California.

With the newer rules for training camp practices, teams have had to adjust to holding fewer padded practices over the recent seasons. Because of that, head coach Mike McCarthy wants his team to focus on its technique as it prepares for the regular season.

“I think this is clearly the day that everyone’s waiting for because this is as close as we can get to preparation for a game,” McCarthy said as he met with the media before Monday’s practice. “The opportunity to really practice the real football far as the fundamentals, the techniques, and just the progression of how everything is set up is really the focal point.”

While the emphasis will be on the basics and perfecting technique, padded practices also allow for better live-speed repetitions, and McCarthy expects that to give his team a boost and increase competition across the board.

“Padded practice brings a lot more energy,” he explained. “We want that competitive environment. We want to work in that place. It’s very important to establish your play style through these 10 padded practices.”

While padded practices can allow teams to ramp up the physicality and the competition level, they also help teams know where they stand as a unit on each side of the ball, one of the biggest reasons McCarthy wants to emphasize technique more than anything.

“Job responsibility was a topic of our team meeting today — just everybody knowing their role, owning it, and just how you fit into the defense and how you fit into the offense,” he told the media. “What is your clear-cut responsibility? That starts with technique, and you really can’t get to that until you put on the pads.”

One player the team will watch closely as the pads come on is rookie first-round draft pick Mazi Smith. A defender’s job generally relies heavily on proper technique and physicality, but as a nose tackle, those skills are even more vital, and the rookie from Michigan is expected to dominate the line of scrimmage.

“He was brought in here to command the A-gap,” McCarthy said. “Today’s a starting point for him to start owning that technique.”


— Cowboys running back Ronald Jones has been suspended for the first two games of the season for violating the league’s performance-enhancing substances policy.

— A recent survey of over 3,000 fans across the league voted the Cowboys’ home and away uniforms as the best in the league.

— The Denver Broncos believe wide receiver Tim Patrick has suffered an Achilles injury. The team also waived receiver KJ Hamler after he announced he was “stepping away” due to a heart issue.

— Indianapolis Colts running back Zach Moss broke his arm in practice on Monday. The club is also in a dispute with running back Jonathan Taylor over his future.

— The NFL preseason kicks off as the New York Jets and Cleveland Browns play on Thursday night in the annual Hall of Fame Game. The Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Class of 2023 will be inducted on Saturday afternoon.

— The league has edited its personal-conduct policy to include harsher penalties for sexual assault.

— New York Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers has responded to Sean Payton’s criticism of Nathaniel Hackett.

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