Cowboys upset at starting camp late

The Cowboys think the Giants have a competitive advantage heading into the Sept. 5 season opener because their NFC East rivals open training camp three days before they do.

So the Cowboys have petitioned the league to open their training camp three days earlier so the Giants won't get three extra practice days.

The Cowboys are set to open camp July 30 in Oxnard Calif., while the Giants will open July 27.

Per league rules, teams are allowed to open camp 15 days prior to their first preseason game with no concern given to the opener. The Cowboys' first preseason game is Aug. 13 against the Raiders on ESPN Monday Night Football. The Giants' first game is Aug. 10.

The Cowboys are not confident their camp date will be moved up but they have gone through the proper channels to get it done.

Coach Jason Garrett said the league understands their point but the decision to move up camp must be negotiated through the NFLPA.

"What we have to focus on is what our situation is," coach Jason Garrett said. "We can't worry about what the Giants' situation is or any of our opponents. We know when we're going to report to camp and we know when we're going to play our first preseason game and first regular-season game.

"That's all pretty much outlined for us, so we just have to understand what the situation is and as a coach and coaching staff we have to make sure we organize things the right way to get ourselves prepared as we go through camp. We'll have plenty of time to do that."

Because the Cowboys and Giants start so early the league has made one concession by moving up the date for final cuts to Aug. 31 so they can at least set their roster and be part of the waiver process before the first game.

The Cowboys' final preseason game is Thursday, Aug. 30 against Miami. They then play the Giants six days later on Sept. 5.

"That's a good thing because we'll have to have our team ready to go," Garrett said. "We'll play on Wednesday night in our last preseason game against Miami and Thursday is like a Monday during the season, getting ready for that following Wednesday. We've got to be ready to roll and it's a great opportunity for our football team."

* Cowboys owner Jerry Jones offered aid and job reference to former receiver Terrell Owens, but not a job.

Owens has been out of the league since 2010 and is looking to continue his career at 38 years of age. Jones thinks he can still play and would like to help, short of bringing him back to the Cowboys.

"First of all, he really can reach out to me at any time, because I consider him a friend," Jones said. "We would feel good if he reached out. I think that he really, without having first-hand knowledge of what kind of physical condition he is in, I know he has the right stuff and could help someone. "I have actually looked at some of the things he did last year. He's still got the ability to be quite a threat as a receiver. I would advise him if that he still has got the heart - and he does - to continue to try to get on with an NFL team."

Jones made it clear the Cowboys are not looking at Owens.

"We are not planning on doing anything at receiver, personnel-wise, numbers-wise," he said. * Cornerback Morris Claiborne was killed before the draft for bombing the Wonderlic test. He said he didn't take the test seriously because it had nothing to do with football. But his poor score raised questions and concerns about his aptitude and ability to learn.

So far the Cowboys have had no problems with Claiborne's IQ as they say his football smarts are off the charts.

"He's clearly a guy who has a good understanding of football," Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. "We use the expression 'football IQ.' Everything we heard from the people at LSU who were around him for three years said he was very natural that way. We've given him a lot of stuff. It's particularly difficult for him because he is hearing the stuff, but he not getting to do it.

"But he's handling it well. We'll see when he gets out there practicing, when the bullets are really flying, how well he handles it. But he hangs in there mentally, and I think that has a lot to do with just his understanding of the game. That's football IQ."

Claiborne is not able to play yet because of wrist surgery but the Cowboys say his football smarts are showing in the classroom and walk-throughs -- not to mention his film from college.

"The tape tells me he's smart and plays with awareness," secondary coach Jerome Henderson said after a minicamp practice Wednesday at Valley Ranch. "When I look at tape of the young man, everything about it says, 'Wow, this guy is really smart. A smart football player. Understands the concepts. Understands his fit within those concepts.'"

Henderson said Claiborne has to continue to work hard and study to learn the defense like everybody else and he promises to stay on him to make sure he reaches his full potential. Henderson thinks he has the makings of a great player.

"He's got to work harder in the classroom to put himself in those situations where he has to think fast and put pressure on himself," Henderson said. "I've got to do that with him in the meetings, put pressure on him to think fast, create pressure. Because to me, that's the difference between great players and average players, how they handle stress and pressure. When it's easy and slowed down, everybody can go out there and function. But when it speeds up and I'm a little tense, a lot of things are going on, how does he handle the situation?

"And again, from what I've seen of the young man, I think he'll be good in those situations. But I try to create them for him as much as possible."

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I like where we are. We competed hard out there. We've gotten a lot done. Jason (Garrett) and his staff and Rob (Ryan) have really installed what they wanted to get accomplished. I think everybody is probably ready for a break." -- Vice president Stephen Jones on the Cowboys' offseason program, OTAs and minicamp.

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