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Monday, April 15, 2013
Cowboys begin voluntary workouts

By Calvin Watkins

The Cowboys started voluntary offseason workouts Monday at Valley Ranch.

Most players worked out prior to Monday or were rehabbing injuries.

Here's a primer:

Who runs the program? Mike Woicik, the Cowboys' strength and conditioning coach, has a program in place for every player that includes lifting, running and even eating (if necessary). Woicik, who has won Super Bowl rings with the New England Patriots and Dallas Cowboys, monitors every player's weight. There were numerous injuries last season -- including to safety Matt Johnson, who missed the entire season -- and you could blame training, bad luck or the players themselves. Miles Austin battled hamstring injuries, but you can't blame Woicik. Coach Jason Garrett said sometimes Austin needs to be protected from himself and must communicate with the strength and conditioning staff how his leg feels.

The media: We're not allowed at Valley Ranch today, so please don't ask how the workouts are going because reporters are banned from the facility. The next time reporters will be allowed at Valley Ranch is for the predraft news conference with owner/general manager Jerry Jones.

The injured: Among the players who were injured last season and will begin workouts: Chris Jones (knee), Orlando Scandrick (hand), Barry Church (Achilles), Sean Lee (toe), Bruce Carter (elbow), Caleb McSurdy (Achilles), Orie Lemon (hamstring), Dez Bryant (finger), Phil Costa (ankle), Ben Bass (ankle), Donavon Kemp (knee) and DeMarcus Ware (shoulder).

What does voluntary mean? Players technically aren't required to show up and participate in the offseason program. Mike Jenkins didn't arrive at Valley Ranch during the voluntary period last season as he recovered from shoulder surgery. Jenkins was irked by the Cowboys' offseason moves to sign cornerback Brandon Carr and draft Morris Claiborne. Jenkins eventually showed up for mandatory workouts so he wouldn't get fined. Austin also failed to show up at voluntary workouts a few years ago after he was franchised by the team. When several teammates -- including quarterback Tony Romo -- noted Austin's absence, the receiver showed up.

Who gets paid? Some NFL players have financial incentive to participate in voluntary offseason programs. Some of the Cowboys who get workout bonuses: Ware ($500,000), Bryant ($250,000), Jermey Parnell ($100,000), Carter ($50,000), DeMarco Murray ($25,000), Tyrone Crawford ($10,000), David Arkin ($20,000) and Dwayne Harris ($10,000). And then there are those who would be docked pay for failing to complete the program: Mackenzy Bernadeau ($250,000), Jason Hatcher ($250,000) and Lawrence Vickers ($100,000).

Mandatory workouts: The Cowboys' first mandatory minicamp is scheduled for June 11-13.