OXNARD, Calif. - The Dallas Cowboys have arrived in Oxnard, California for training camp with a new sense of optimism following a 9-7 record and no playoff appearance.
“There's always an incredible sense of excitement when we come in (to Oxnard), just because we put in so much work,” veteran linebacker Sean Lee said. “This group is unbelievable to work with, the type of guys we have and the work we put in this offseason. We had an incredible OTAs. For us, we can finally start to realize that (in camp).”
Players will go through physicals and conditioning tests on Wednesday and will practice for the first time on Thursday.
Here’s what Lee and wide receiver Allen Hurns said after the Cowboys arrived at their team hotel in Oxnard on Tuesday evening.
On the leadership void after Jason Witten’s retirement:
“We have a lot of young guys and some new guys. But we also have some guys that have been here for a while. Obviously, losing Jason Witten is tough for us. I'm going to have to step up as a leader and a lot of other guys are going to have to step up. We have a great core of leaders, guys who have played for a while, who I think are ready to step up and take that role.”
On his goal for the defense in 2018:
“Defensively, we want to take that next step and become a dominant defense throughout that entire year. I thought we played better at times last year but for us, we have to be a top ten defense that's playing great year in and year out, game in and game out.”
On his personal goal for 2018:
“For me, the biggest thing is staying on the football field. Find a way to stay healthy. I've done a lot this offseason to try to make sure the hamstrings are right and the entire body is ready to go. I've been in a leadership role but with him, that's a big void. Being available all the time is something I'm really working on.”
On the defense’s potential:
“Defensively, we have some guys who I'm excited to see take that next step. Some young guys who played last year who did a really good job but who really had unbelievable offseasons. I think they're going to play really well for us and hopefully take us, defensively, to another level.”
On his first Cowboys camp:
“It's very different. In Jacksonville, we stayed in Jacksonville for our camp. Jacksonville is one of the lower market teams so not much media. It's usually the same guys you see throughout the season and things like that. It's very different.”
On his personal goal for 2018:
“I feel like this is a big year for me going forward in my career but each year, you're looking to prove yourself coming into a new year. That's the thing about the NFL. You always got to prove yourself year in and year out. It's a great feeling getting to a new year.”
On what he hopes to accomplish during training camp:
“Just building that chemistry with the offense. Getting on the same page, getting out there and getting a feel for the offense. I did some of that during OTAs but it's only so much time you have there. Right now, it's time to get in tune with everything, pick everything up and improve.”
On the new wide receiver group:
“I feel like we made great progress. We have a lot of new guys, especially with the receiver position. With me, Deonte, Tavon and Mike Gallup, it's just getting a feel for the offense. I feel like right now, it's time to take the next step with guys getting comfortable making plays and building that chemistry.”
On the lack of buzz for the Cowboys in 2018:
“I feel like it's a lot of motivation. We hear the talk. As much as you don't try to hear it, you're going to hear it. I feel like it's a very hungry team.”