Dallas Cowboys' OTAs start today

IRVING, Texas -- For the first time since the 2013 season ended with a 24-22 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, the Dallas Cowboys will be able to practice football against each other.

It won’t be real football, but it will be the closest thing until training camp begins in July in Oxnard, California.

The Cowboys start three weeks of organized team activities (OTAs) today at Valley Ranch, kicking off Phase 3 of the NFL offseason. Players will be in helmets, but the pads have to wait until training camp.

It’s the first time this year the offense and defense will get to go against each other in drills. In Phase 2 of the offseason, the offense and defense cannot compete against each other. The Cowboys will hold OTAs this week from Tuesday to Thursday as well as June 2, June 4-5 and June 9-12.

They close out the offseason with a mandatory minicamp on June 17-19.

The Cowboys’ rookies went through a minicamp after the draft and were part of Phase 2 of the program, and also took part in the conditioning program.

The OTAs, however, are a step up.

“It’s good to see those guys out there getting themselves acclimated to some things,” coach Jason Garrett said during the rookie camp. “Mentally, as much as anything else we’re trying to put some pressure on them, give them some instillation, see if they can handle it and practice at a certain tempo and pace. We’ve got to get those guys used to that, as well. When the veterans come out here, it’s much faster than it’s been [in the rookie camp.]”