Quarterback Tony Romo said about 40 players have been working out together this week.
"The guys know how important it is to be in football shape and ready to go when the lockout ends," Romo said. "I was very pleased with the turnout. The guys were excited to be out there. It was a crisp and fast-paced practice. You could tell the guys were energized to be back into football on the field.
"I think as we continue to do this going forward, it will help us improve tremendously this offseason. Any competitive advantage we will be able to obtain, that's why we're out there doing the things we're doing. We're excited knowing we'll be that much farther along and we'll be in football shape."
Said tight end Jason Witten, "We have to do that as a group, work out. You can't just go to training camp without having done any work. It's going to be a very important part of what we do. It's about us going to work and doing it together."
Conspicuous by his absence was wide receiver Dez Bryant, who also was not among the group of players that were at the team facility last Friday on the one non-lockout day of the offseason. However, Bryant did attend the workouts the following day, and Romo said he "looked good."
Yet, owner Jerry Jones defended Bryant for not being there April 29, saying, "We don't know what his schedule was since certainly two days earlier he hadn't planned to be here. He might have planned to be on the other side of the country; this was kind of an impromptu day for most of the people to be here."
--The Cowboys resisted the temptation to get cute.
Owner Jerry Jones just did the right, smart and simple thing.
By picking USC offensive tackle Tyron Smith with the ninth overall pick of the 2011 NFL Draft, they took the best player on the board at the position of their greatest need.
Jones acknowledges his obsession with getting players with the wow factor who sell tickets and get the fans excited. But he admits the time is out for flare. His team just needs good players who will help the Cowboys win.
Jones feels he got that with Smith, who was the top-rated tackle in the draft by NFLDraftScout.com, and became the first offensive lineman drafted by Dallas in 30 years.
"You know how important a talented offensive lineman can be," Jones said. "We've got one here. I'm not dismayed about not making a big splash. We have had big splashes the last two years with the opening of the stadium and the Super Bowl. We should be doing things that are in the best interest of the football team.
"(Smith) was so unique in his skills. I would have hated to come out of tonight to not have addressed and improved the offensive line."
Smith has already been penciled into the starting lineup at right tackle where he will replace Marc Colombo, who is due a $2.5 million roster bonus and will be cut.
Smith seems to be ready for the challenge and to show Jones that he will be a special player without the wow factor of skill position player.
"I think I have the potential to be a Pro Bowler and be Hall of Famer," Smith said. "I'm willing to take the challenge and work hard for it."
The Cowboys certainly feel good about him - good enough that they shunned trade offers for their No. 9 pick.
Jones admitted entertaining a trade looking for a blockbuster deal to trade down. They got plenty of conversation and several offers. They even got a call with less than two minutes to go on the clock, which is why it took so long for Jones to turn in the pick.
In the end, the Cowboys said they didn't want to lose Smith, who they had rated far ahead of the other tackles in the draft.
"We didn't want to risk losing him," Jones said of not trading down. "I gave myself a test and that was can I live with the missed opportunity of a trade more than the decision of losing him. I can live with the missed opportunity. I couldn't live with losing him."
Cowboys offensive line coach Hudson Houck said Smith has freakish athletic ability, and even compared him to former Cowboys All-Pro Larry Allen.
"This guy is going to be a great run blocker and pass protector," Houck said. "This guy is a tremendous worker and we know by his statistics that he's incredible. (He had) one of the fastest 40 times, great bencher, leaper, great recovery, which is hard to coach many times. He can anchor a bull rusher and he can recover when he gets out of position. Those are things you can't teach early. He has great leg strength."
Copyright (C) 2011 The Sports Xchange. All Rights Reserved.