Oxnard -- The thrill of 13-and-3 has set the stage for another Cowboys campaign, and now it's time to prove they can live up to one of their buzz-words.
"It’s the mantra," said quarterback Dak Prescott in the Cowboys final minicamp in June, "it’s what this team is about, recommitting every day."
Head coach Jason Garrett challenges his team to do it each day, saying that continued commitment is the key to improving on last year's great season.
"Recommitting is waking up every morning and finding that approach to do your job every day no matter what," said receiver Cole Beasley, "no excuses."
Dak Prescott and Zeke Elliott's breakthrough rookie seasons, while promising and exciting, must be left in the rear-view.
"There’s so many stories that are written, these young guys and this and that," said tight end, Jason Witten. "The hell with that, you know it goes back to this is our challenge this week. How are we going to win it? Recommit just means whatever has happened before here just forget about and now let’s go back to what allows us to win."
Before this team can truly recommit though, they seemingly have to get out of their own way.
Off-field issues have dominated discussion leading up to the Cowboys arrival for training camp in Oxnard.
For more nearly half-and-hour straight at the start of state-of-the-team press conference, media members peppered the Cowboys brass with questions about off-field matters.
"Accountability does not mean infallibility," said head coach Jason Garrett.
Running back Zeke Elliott, with a possible suspension looming stemming from 20-16 domestic violence allegations, has become the poster child off-field distractions.
"We believe very strongly in Zeke Elliott as a person and a football player," said Garrett. "Having said that, he's not perfect. He makes mistakes we all make mistakes."
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones says he's reviewed the report from the NFL regarding Elliott's possible suspension and said, "there is absolutely nothing, not one thing that I've seen that has to do with domestic violence."
Whether or not Jones is right may not matter to the NFL, though. And this season figures to be the fourth straight to include multiple Cowboys suspensions.
"It's been my experience," said Jones, "that the risk is worth the potential reward."
The Cowboys have had seven double-digit win seasons since they last won a Super Bowl more than two decades ago. And none of them have been back-to-back.
It's hard enough in this league to duplicate success. An inability to eliminate distractions makes it nearly impossible.
"We have to work through situations, but certainly we have to be better there," said Witten. "We have to understand that our platform, and what we have to do, we have to eliminate those distractions so we can go out and play football."
Several weeks ago, when asked about what he'd learned from his first year under the intense scrutiny that comes along with wearing the star, Elliott said, "you learn from your mistakes, and if you don't, it can be brutal.
All of Cowboys nation hoping their star runner and his teammates understand exactly what that means.
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