What did we learn?

All spring, people have anticipated the start of training camp. The draft is important, as are the mini-camps, but there's something about training camp that signifies the beginning of the season. When the teams report to dorms at camp facilities around the country, it just feels different. It's time for football … right?

Not so fast.

The opening of training camp, at least in the case of the 2008 Cowboys, is now upon us. Everything that led up to this point was window dressing. Yes, thousands of people show up to watch that window dressing, including the HBO folks with their cameras for Hard Knocks, but it is what it is.

OK, it's not window dressing for a lot of teams. Then again, most teams are not in the position the Cowboys enjoy. Dallas likely is the most talented team in the NFC, and is on the very short list of the most talented teams in the entire NFL. There's a very real chance the Cowboys could open the season with just one or two new starters, compared to the beginning of the 2007 season.

At other camps, the first few weeks matter — a lot. Many have a high draft pick who is expected to "save" his new team, but if Dallas first-rounders Felix Jones and Mike Jenkins are called upon to save anything, this team will have huge problems, probably of the injury variety.

The biggest training camp news story for the Cowboys has been whether or not Jessica Simpson would show up. That's considered news? No, it's not, but it's a fantastic barometer of just how blissfully news-free the beginning of the Cowboys' camp has been. If being news-free doesn't exactly sound "blissful," ask Mark Murphy and Ted Thompson if they would not have preferred a nice, quiet start to their camp, rather than the circus that was the Brett Favre saga.

Now the Cowboys have one exhibition game behind them. Lest anyone get too worked up about Saturday's game in San Diego, remember what was learned: very little.

Yes, the Cowboys got thumped by a very talented San Diego team — means absolutely nothing. On one hand, it could be pointed out that the Dallas offensive starters fared well in their absurdly brief cameos on the field, but on the other hand, the first-team Dallas defense wasn't exactly stingy against a San Diego offense that played without LaDainian Tomlinson or Antonio Gates.

Here's what was learned Saturday night and actually has an impact on the upcoming season:

1. No major injuries were suffered.

2. Pacman Jones hasn't played in a year, and it showed, and as of now it doesn't matter because he has not yet been fully reinstated by the NFL (everyone assumes he will be, but until he is, his performance against the Chargers means very little).

3. Nobody really emerged as a No. 3 receiver.

4. Zach Thomas emerged concussion-free after diving in head-first on several tackles in the early going.

Anything else? Not really, unless the fact that the coaches now have some game film to grade counts as something of significance. They now can start evaluating, but even that is mostly for backup spots … and there aren't even many of those available.

The folks at HBO — and Jerry Jones — want the Dallas camp to be dramatic, but thus far, it has been more worthy of an appearance on Entertainment Tonight than SportsCenter… which suits Wade Phillips and his staff just fine.

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