IRVING, Texas -- During his news briefing last week, Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett made reference to Dez Bryant catching passes off the JUGS machine during a special teams' portion of the organized team activity.
To Garrett, it was a sign of Bryant's passion to improve as a player.
What he didn't make mention of was DeMarco Murray working on the finer points of his game during the same special teams' portion of the workout.
Instead of catching passes, Murray was working on his hand placement and footwork heading into a blocking sled to simulate pass protection. Over and over Murray did the same thing, trying to perfect something he is already pretty good at doing.
"It's a lot of technique, and that gets a little lost at times when you put on full pads and you're out there trying to get it," Murray said. "The technique part is huge in OTAs. [Running backs coach Gary Brown] starts with Round 1, fundamentally, we've got to work on things we've been doing our whole life, but we've got to get back right fundamentally sound."
The OTAs are hardly a place where Murray, who is coming off his first 1,000-yard season and Pro Bowl appearance, can shine. He is a physical runner and without pads and limited contact, Murray can't do what he does best.
"It is frustrating with the running backs or with me in general," Murray said. "Guys work on routes and things like that. You can beat a man one-on-one, but with no pads, you just really can't tell much. It's a little frustrating at times, but I'm happy to be out there and get the work in."
But like the pass protection work he did, he can also work on timing with the offensive line on zone plays. Four of the Cowboys' five starters return up front with first-round pick Zack Martin the only newcomer.
"It's definitely a little harder to block without pads, but they do a hell of a job just blocking with jerseys," Murray said. "I've definitely gotten a great feel for the offense and what we can do."