Leighton Vander Esch's first day with the Cowboys
When the Dallas Cowboys convene for rookie minicamp, starting Friday and running through Sunday, it will be more of a series of walk-through practices than full-fledged workouts.
The nine Cowboys rookie draft picks, led by first-round selection Leighton Van Esch, will be joined by 18 undrafted free agents and a number of select veterans for the three-day camp at the Ford Center at the Star in Frisco.
"The tempo and pace of practice will be similar to what we do in mornings at training camp,"coach Jason Garrett
said. "We call it team on the grass. They will be on the field twice on Friday, twice on Saturday and once on Sunday. That will be the tempo. We will learn a lot of football but we won't be going full speed.
"The other thing we are going to do on Friday and Saturday and get them integrated into our strength and conditioning program. So that will be our physical work to get them started on that."
The goal is to help players get acclimated to the NFL game in terms of schedule and routine. But it's also a nod to injuries of past years.
Many players haven't played football since November and December and have spent much of the past few months training for the combine.
Going straight to intense football drills at a tempo they are not used to takes a toll on the body and could be linked to the hamstring injuries that wreaked havoc rookie cornerbacks Chido Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis in minicamp and training camp last year.
"We have done this a lot of different ways over the years," Garrett said. "What we want them to do is try to do a better job of laying a physical foundation for what we are going to ask them to do going forward instead of going full speed right way and dialing back into that.
"We thought we would get a jump start on the strength and conditioning, teach them a lot of football on the field, just at a slower pace.
"It's something we have studied for a number of years. Just trying to figure out what is best to ask them to do at the outset because of where they have been.
"They haven't been in the offseason program. We want to make it aggressive. We want to make it intense for them. We want to get them to understand what we are asking them to do at a high level. But maybe laying the foundation in the offseason program rather than going full speed at practice is a better way to transition."