Cowboys eye California as Schultz shows it off for brief minicamp
FRISCO, Texas (AP) — Dalton Schultz didn’t return for much when the Dallas tight end decided to join the club for minicamp while seeking a long-term contract.
Coach Mike McCarthy canceled two days of practice ahead of a nearly six-week break before training camp, deciding the Cowboys were ready for California as long as they stayed on track on their own before the date of the July 26.
“I think the most important thing is you have a start line and a finish line and I just felt like we crossed the finish line, especially with the veterans,” said McCarthy said Thursday. “Everything we wanted to accomplish in the offseason has been completed, and the focus is really on their individual five-week plan.”
Schultz could have been fined for skipping what was supposed to be a three-day minicamp because he signed the $10.9 million offer that came with the franchise tag.
The fifth-year player sat out the final two days of voluntary practice of the offseason last week in hopes of initiating contract talks. The parties have until July 15 to reach a long-term agreement.
Schultz was mostly a spectator for what ended up being the only minicamp practice on Tuesday. McCarthy canceled the two remaining practices even though he said he was unhappy with the work done in practice last week.
The Cowboys hit golf balls at a driving range during a team-building event on Tuesday, after which the veterans were released for the break. The recruits had another day of lifting and meetings Thursday.
“What we accomplished in the offseason, we have to build on,” McCarthy said. “We cannot go back. I think they understand it well. That’s been the message all along. It’s not something we just talked about yesterday or today.
Schultz’s brief absence, which came shortly after David Njoku signed a four-year, $57 million extension with Cleveland, was the only hint of drama during two months of work at the team’s headquarters in about 30 minutes north of Dallas.
His return for minicamp was a strong sign that Schultz will be in training camp in Oxnard, Calif., even without a long-term contract. Since the departure of Jason Witten, Schultz has become one of quarterback Dak Prescott’s most reliable options.
“It’s huge,” Prescott said Tuesday of the return of Schultz, who was second on the team behind new No. 1 receiver CeeDee Lamb in catches last season with 78 for a career-high 808 yards. and eight touchdowns. “Obviously what he means to this team, his leadership, the role he’s stepped in to be the tight end guy.”
McCarthy’s decision to shorten the minicamp came knowing that many players live in the Dallas area year-round. He also knows that the receivers will likely be at Prescott’s, in a field in his backyard, before the California report date.
“There’s a lot of work being done that’s really not on the daily schedule,” McCarthy said. “I think it really plays. And the fact that the guys are here and interacting with their coaches on a different level than my experience in the past, that’s all part of it.
Because the Cowboys hired him to replace Jason Garrett shortly before the pandemic began, McCarthy has just completed his first normal offseason with a club that is coming off an NFC East title and home loss to San Francisco.
The latest playoff loss marked the 26th straight season the Cowboys have failed to even reach an NFC Championship Game since the last of the franchise’s five Super Bowl titles after the 1995 season.
McCarthy, who reached four NFC title games and won a Super Bowl in Green Bay, said the return to normal also meant the Cowboys were in their best position to enter training camp during his three off-seasons.
“It’s the best I’ve felt about the football team in the preparation, the focus,” McCarthy said. “You have to reject the first year. We are clearly ahead of where we were at this time last year.
Far enough to cancel practice two days earlier.
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