Garrett wants Cowboys to feel a sense of urgency every day

SAN ANTONIO -- Jason Garrett began his first press conference of the 2011 season the same way he ended 2010. Only instead of, "How you doing, guys?" -- his usual greeting last season -- the Cowboys coach said, "How is everybody doing today? It's great to see you."

This Cowboys training camp is the same, only different.

They are back in San Antonio for the fourth time in five years, with welcome banners hastily hung at the Alamodome once the lockout ended Monday.

Gone are Roy Williams, Marion Barber and Leonard Davis, among others. Gone, too, is the 2010 season when the Cowboys started 1-7 and finished 6-10.

In is new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, and rookie tackle Tyron Smith, with some other new players to come.

Owner Jerry Jones' optimism also remains.

"The fact that we have been wearing around this unsuccessful year as long as we have, to me, that's motivational," Jones said. "It makes you not want to wear losing around. So I think we will benefit from that."

There was no mention of the Super Bowl in the Cowboys' kickoff press conference, unlike last year when Dallas made no secret of its desire to become the first team to play the Super Bowl in its home stadium.

Instead, Garrett's message is simple: Shut up and play.

"There's a certain way we're going to do things," Garrett said. "If you had told us that we had a full off-season, and we had a normal start to training camp and all of that, the message would be the same: We've got to hit the ground running. We're going to do things with a fast tempo, with some urgency. We're going to do that on a daily basis, and hopefully we can put some good days together."

At this point, the Cowboys don't even know how their final 53-player roster is going to look. They still are working on filling holes at defensive end and safety.

Executive vice president Stephen Jones said the Cowboys have 65-70 players under contract. The limit is 90. He added that they still hope to add six unrestricted free agents, which would include re-signing some of their own.

The Cowboys reached agreement with free agent left tackle Doug Free late Tuesday night, with Free staying put for a four-year, $32 million deal that includes $17 million in guarantees. They have eight other unrestricted free agents, including left guard Kyle Kosier, safety Gerald Sensabaugh, defensive end Jason Hatcher, defensive end Stephen Bowen and defensive end Marcus Spears.

Ryan won't have all his pieces when he greets his troops today trying to turn around a defense that allowed a team-record 436 points last season. He also didn't have the off-season in which to implement his system.

But last year isn't this year, as Garrett surely reminded the Cowboys in their team meeting Wednesday evening.

"Something I think is important to remember is when you start a new year, it's a new football team," Garrett said. "The dynamics are different; the chemistry is different. You have to develop those things. So let's start with that. This is a new football team from 2010, which was different from 2009.

"Let's start with that premise. You can have some continuity from year to year if the systems are the same. Our offensive system and our system in our kicking game will be similar to the ones we have seen in the past. Rob has a different challenge installing his defensive system. We did have an opportunity to be around our players [before the lockout], but we haven't had an off-season. They are going to have to learn this defensive system, and they have to learn it quickly."

Charean Williams


Related stories from Fort Worth Star Telegram