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Preseason schedule release provides roadmap to season for Cowboys

The dates and times for the 2021 NFL preseason has been released and now the Cowboys have the remainder of the offseason laid out in front of them

DALLAS — The Dallas Cowboys were scheduled to have one last practice before minicamp concluded on Thursday, leaving just a mandatory rookie program next week before the team prepares for training camp. However, following in the footsteps of other teams across the NFL, head coach Mike McCarthy decided to cancel the team’s final workout.

Instead, the Cowboys held a team bonding event. The veterans for the Cowboys are now off until they report for camp in July as the offseason concludes and the preparation for the 2021 season begins in earnest.

It was a nice treat from McCarthy to give the players the day off and a reward for an offseason program that was well-attended by most of the team.

The Cowboys must be pleased with the progress they’ve shown in McCarthy’s second year and having a normal offseason in 2021 may have given management the confidence to cancel the last practice. 

Although the offseason program is over and players are free from organized team activities, it doesn’t mean that the Cowboys won’t be working out. Dallas has one of the league's best leaders in quarterback Dak Prescott, and he will continue to work out with his teammates prior to camp. 

Without knowing how the year will turn out, it certainly feels as though the Cowboys are in a better place than they were at this time last year. No one will dispute that notion.

Also, in preparation for the season, Dallas will get an extra exhibition game, so they should be fully ready to go come September. The Cowboys will play the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Hall of Fame game to kick-off the preseason after last year's matchup was canceled due to COVID-19.

The NFL announced its preseason schedule today, so the times and dates for the Cowboys are set.

The Cowboys are expected to hold training camp in Oxnard, California after a year at home at The Star in Frisco, so they’ll be traveling cross-country to Canton, Ohio for their first exhibition game. With the league shrinking the preseason to just three games, the Cowboys enjoy the benefit of having a fourth tune-up contest. For a team that missed their opportunity to settle in under a new coach last year, the extra game could be a big help. 

After the exhibition opener, Dallas goes on the road against an Arizona Cardinals team that embarrassed them in front of a national audience last season. This might be the first time we see the starters getting some solid playing time in 2021, perhaps Prescott excluded.

In their third preseason contest, the Cowboys finally get to play at home as they face their in-state rival Houston Texans. After opening with a few weeks on the road, playing at AT&T Stadium should be a welcomed sight. Traditionally, the third preseason game is called the dress rehearsal for the regular season, but the Cowboys might be cautious with many of their star players before the year begins. 

The team finishes their preseason at home against the upstart Jacksonville Jaguars and first overall pick Trevor Lawrence. In the final exhibition game, we might not see too many starters for either team but playing at home in the finale is a benefit before heading into the regular season.

Dallas will open the regular season against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on the road. The Super Bowl champions will have an extra day to prepare as their final exhibition game is scheduled a day before the Cowboys conclude their preseason slate. 

Dallas will take any silver linings that they can get before kicking off their 2021 campaign in the Thursday Night primetime debut, and being home for the final few weeks prior to the season-opener is a positive.

It’s objectively been a successful offseason for the Dallas Cowboys. With their QB back and getting healthier, and with McCarthy at the helm in a normal offseason to begin his second year, the Cowboys have gained an encouraging outlook for the upcoming season. 

The road has been laid out ahead of them and the positive vibes is why the team earned a reprieve from the last practice before training camp.

Do you think the Cowboys will benefit from a full training slate in Mike McCarthy’s second season in Dallas? Share your thoughts with Ben on Twitter @BenGrimaldi.

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