Jason Garrett press conference

Jason Garrett press conference

Dallas head coach Jason Garrett talks about the opening of training camp.

On if he believes that limited practices are the best way to prepare for a season:
"In reference to the new rules in the agreement? I think one of the things that has always been interesting about the NFL is that coaches prepare their teams in different ways. If you ask one coach how he likes to handle padded practice, he'll say we'll have to be in pads every day. If you ask another coach, he'll say we're never in pads. There's a certain amount of freedom that coaches like to have to prepare their team the way they want to prepare them. I think if you look at the specifics of the rules that have come out from this agreement, there's a tremendous amount of flexibility to prepare your team within those parameters. Padded practices, walkthrough practices, time allotted on the field – I don't think anybody feels like they're short changed. The rules are a little different. You have to re-work the rules. You have to re-work some of your thinking, but that's part of the deal. As soon as we were able to understand what the rules were, we went to work to try and work within those parameters and that schedule will be on display tomorrow."

On practicing in full pads:
"You're allowed to practice in full pads and we feel like it's very important to do that this time of year to lay the foundation for the physicalness of your football team, and we'll do that."

On explaining the new practice rules:
"I'll try to be brief in explaining what the new rules are: you're allowed to have four hours of practice. Four hours of on the field work. You can't have a practice that lasts longer than three hours, and then the rest of that time has to be made up in a walkthrough environment. If you look at those rules in general, we've never exceeded any of that. Now we just have to structure the practices differently. The way we're going to do it is we'll have a shorter walkthrough of about an hour each day and we'll have a little bit longer of a practice, getting closer to that three hours. In the past we've kind of balanced it up a little more, and these are the new rules and we're going to make them work."

On if the lockout has altered his gameplan of how much starters play in preseason games:
"I think the thing that we all have to remember is that we lost a lot of reps in the offseason. We lost OTA days. We lost minicamp days. So we have to adjust accordingly. We come to training camp with the knowledge of that and make the adjustments in terms of what we're putting in, how we put it in and when we put it in and understand that this is day one. Starting tomorrow, this is our first football practice since the end of last season. So we have to adjust accordingly and that will impact how we will play these preseason games."

On if he expects to get a better gauge of players against other teams in preseason games:
"As we work through it we'll be more candid about how we're going to play these preseason games. Really what we want to do is get to the flow of training camp, see how it's going and understand within these new rules what kind of work we're getting and then we'll adjust accordingly once the games come around."

On how much the team is willing to buy into his philosophy this season:
"I'm not the guy to answer that question, but I do know this: we'll have a plan. We'll have a plan of how we want to do things, when we want to do them, how we want to do them and the approach that we're going to take in meetings and on the practice field and we'll get going. We've got to get going fast."

On if it helps that he's "hit the ground running" since taking over as interim head coach last season:
"There's a certain way that we're going to do things. If you told us that we'd have a full offseason and that we'd have a normal start to training camp and all that, the message would be the same: we've got to hit the ground running. So we're going to do things with a fast tempo, with some urgency and we're going to do that on a daily basis and hopefully we can put some good days together."

On how much say he had on the upcoming roster decisions:
"We make organizational decisions. Personnel decisions or organizational decisions, there's certainly a football factor and a football opinion from the coaching staff and personnel staff, from the administrator staff. Finances are a factor, injuries are a factor, so all of those things put together allow us to have some lively conversation about the moves we need to make: guys we need to keep, guys we need to release, guys we need to bring into our organization. So we have those conversations and we make some organizational decisions on each of those."

On the conditioning test given to players today:
"We always do a conditioning test on the first day of training camp, but you make a good point of this year having not seen our players in awhile, it will be particularly interesting to see where they are. We do some different things in terms of weighing them and doing body fats and all of those things, and those are a good gauge, but this will be a good gauge and we'll see where they are and we'll adjust accordingly."

On how beneficial it was for the players to take the initiative to condition and practice on their own:
"We were not allowed to talk to our players during the offseason, so any comments I make on this are pure speculation and probably based more on the reporting that you guys have done. But I think a lot of good things happen in football when coaches walk off the field and players work together by themselves. This has gone on since 1920 when a quarterback and a receiver stay out, a defensive back and a receiver stay out, a linebacker and a running back stay out and they work against each other. ‘The coaches are gone. Hey, I need to work on this. Can you help me with this? I need to work on this.' Some really good things happen and because we couldn't be out there with them in OTA's and minicamps, we believe that happened a lot with our football team. A lot of our players live in Dallas. We have the right kind of players who we believe will prepare themselves the right way and they've got a chance to get together and work on their own, and we think that's a beneficial thing."

On how tough it will be for defensive coordinator Rob Ryan to quickly install his defense:
"Something I think is important to remember with every football team is that you can have the same group of players and same coaches from the previous year, but when you start a new year, it's a new football team. The dynamics are different, the chemistry is different. You have to develop those things, so let's start with that. This is a different football team than 2010, which was a new and different team from 2009 and so on. So let's start with that premise, and to that end, you can have some continuity from year-to-year if the systems are the same. Our offensive system and are system in our kicking game will be relative similar to what we've seen in the past. Rob has a different challenge installing his defensive system. We did have a little bit of an opportunity to be around our players, but for the most part we haven't had and offseason with them, and they're going to learn this defensive system and they have to learn it quickly. We as coaches have to adjust. We haven't had those 18, 19, 20 practices that we would've had and make the adjustments and hopefully again we can hit the ground running. We feel like we have a smart football team, we feel like we have the right kind of guys, so we feel like we have the right element for them to learn quickly and get ready to go."

On what this team needs to improve in to get back to an acceptable level:
"We have to do everything better. We have to play better on offense. We have to play better on defense. We have to play better in the kicking game. We have to play better in situational football. We have to take care of the ball better. We've got to get the ball from them better. We have to practice better. We have to finish games better. I can keep going. We've got to do a lot of things better."

On the challenge of playing the weekly games:
"You get challenged in the NFL every week, and we respect the challenges that our players have and we have as coaches and we have as a football team. We expect those challenges will be there for us again this year starting with the Jets. We're just trying to get ready for them." On which players did not report to training camp today and which were told not to report: "We don't have any of that stuff officially yet. We're going to have a team meeting here shortly and we'll find out more about that."

On how he intends to prevent last season's slow start from happening again in 2011:
"I think it's a good question in general. Last year is last year. We're moving forward and there are a lot of things we can learn from that experience and how we came back from that 1-7 start. But again, we're going to talk about 2011 and we're going to talk about going forward. The importance of training camp in laying your foundation is critical. Our focus and my message to the players today is to understand where we are on the calendar and how important this time of year is for us. Don't think about the Jets. Think about today and let's get going and I think that will be our message that I will give our team and our coaches will give our team."

On if he still had to look at why the team started 1-7 last season:
"We as coaches did that. We spent a lot of time in the offseason working through the things that were good about last year and the things that weren't very good about last year. We've talked about those things and made adjustments, and now we're going forward."

On what things Tony Romo gained by being hurt in 2010 and positioning himself in a leadership role during his organization of player practices during this offseason:
"I think anytime you're a player and you have an opportunity to play, particularly at the quarterback position of an all-encompassing, just consuming position where you're at the forefront of everything, and then you get that taken away, you kind of have to put the brakes on a little bit. You have to step back from it, emotionally attach yourself from it, then you can re-engage from a different point of view and that's what Tony had to do. I played with Troy Aikman and Troy Aikman had to do it a few times, and it's hard for these guys. It's hard for them to do it, but once you're able to do it, there is a lot to learn watching other people, continuing to remind yourself what a unique opportunity you have, and when I get that chance again I'm really going to be ready. Now don't get me wrong – Tony Romo gets himself ready to play. He was ready and it's a really important thing for him, but when your perspective changes a little bit, maybe you can get re-energized, you can get re-focused, some of those things can happen. I didn't have concerns about Tony in that regard anyway, it's a the glass is half full attitude that we all can have and one that he took and I think he gained from it. As we talked before, a lot of good things can happen when players get by themselves away from coaches. That clearly happened with our football team in the offseason and when you're a quarterback and the leader of those sessions, then you certainly benefit. Anytime you're a leader and you're put in a situation where you have to grasp more of the leadership role, it's a positive thing. I think Tony understood that and took advantage of it and I think it was good for him and good for our football team."

On his confidence in Dez Bryant to play a bigger role for the offense in 2011:
"I just think the fact that Dez Bryant made such an impact last year gives me confidence to do that. He was a guy going into his junior year – his third year – at Oklahoma State, hadn't played a ton of football. Played three games at Oklahoma State, couldn't play the rest of the season, was injured during camp and really didn't practice with us until our first game last year and then went in and had the kind of year he had and then got injured again. He did so many good things at a young age without a lot of work, so he's a guy who we believe can just grow and grow as a player. He plays with great passion, emotion and enthusiasm and anybody who watches him play can see that. We as coaches love that. We believe his teammates love that. That's what we want in our football players. So when you go about that the way he has and you're as talented as he is, now he gets more of an opportunity, there's no reason for us to think he can't continue to get better."

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