Cowboys in pads for first time today

OXNARD, Calif. -- Technically, Dallas Cowboys training camp started on Thursday. But in some ways it really starts today when the pads are on for the first time.

The Cowboys worked their way into camp more slowly than the collective bargaining agreement even allowed with the offense and defense only working against each other in walkthrough parts of practice.

When the pads go on today, the 11-on-11 drills will commence.

“I’m excited about it,” linebacker Bruce Carter said. “Then another thing is to just go against the offense instead of just going on air. So it’ll be exciting for us and the fans.”

Even running back Lance Dunbar, all 195 pounds of him, is looking forward to putting on pads.

“The first day you’ll probably be a little sore but we're football players, we’re tough,” Dunbar said. “We’ll fight through it.”

Everybody from Jason Garrett to the players thought that the new format to practice was beneficial in helping everybody get into football mode. The coaches loved the extra fundamental work. The players loved that their bodies were not taxed right away.

All bets are off when the pads come on.

“You’ve still got to relax, come out with that swagger, know what you’re doing, OK, and now there’s that next step and it’s the physical part of the game,” defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli said. “The hitting and all those things, now you’ve got to be able to bring all your skill and your poise and everything back with you.”