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Virtual learning played role in Cowboys cutting mandatory minicamp short

With virtual learning as a component to their offseason training, head coach Mike McCarthy and the Dallas Cowboys feel like they’re staying ahead of the curve.
Credit: AP
Dallas Cowboys wide receiver CeeDee Lamb (88) breaks away from Arizona Cardinals safety Budda Baker (3) during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Jan. 2, 2022, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)

DALLAS — The Dallas Cowboys were scheduled to have mandatory minicamp through most of last week, but coach Mike McCarthy decided one day was enough.

On June 15, the Cowboys had a team bonding event at Topgolf. One would assume that a team that failed to win a home wild-card playoff game should put in a little more effort than reward themselves on the second day of minicamp.

RELATED: Minicamp recap: Cowboys finish offseason program ahead of training camp

However, McCarthy pointed out that the virtual learning element, along with players staying in Dallas-Fort Worth during the six-week layoff before training camp begins, played a part in his decision to cut minicamp short.

"It's [bonding] and, I'll be honest with you, it's the virtual learning too," McCarthy told reporters June 16. "I mean, for me personally, I think when you go through it, the pandemic, clearly learned a lot personally and as a coaching staff perspective of the workload capacity, there's a lot of work that gets done that's really not on the daily schedule. I think that really plays into it."

Players were also spending time with coaches on their own time, which encouraged McCarthy to believe the work was getting done.

"The fact that the guys are here and they do interact with their coaches on a different level than my experience in the past, that's all part of it," said McCarthy. "I can't tell you how proud I am of our young players, but just to compliment the coaching staff, that's really what I echoed in the last staff meeting, I thought they knocked it out of the park. I thought they hit a home run as far as maximizing their time with our players."

Cowboys owner, president, and general manager Jerry Jones told reporters June 16 at the FIFA 2026 host city announcement in Dallas that the team "got a lot of good work in."

Said Jones: "We’ve got really young players, not only the draft picks, but also really more free agents, college free agents that have a chance to help us this year than I’ve seen in a long time."

The 95% attendance for veterans during the first phase of the offseason workouts, going back to the captain workouts, buoyed McCarthy about the foundation that was being laid at The Star.

"We were able to go through all the concepts with the vets, and then the vets also got all eight installs," McCarthy said. "I think we clearly crossed the finish line of what we were trying to get done this year."

The finish line Cowboys fans care about is the one on Feb. 12, 2023, in Glendale, Arizona. If Dallas is able to make the Super Bowl, then the extra time off will have been worth it.

Do you think the Cowboys are prepared to defend their NFC East title in 2022? Share your thoughts with Mark on Twitter @therealmarklane.

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