Meaner, tougher training camp in store

The Cowboys open training camp July 29 and it won't be anything like what we've seen in recent years.

This will be a meaner, tougher and more disciplined Cowboys training camp than in past years. But of course coming off the most embarrassing and underachieving season in franchise history will make you change.

The Cowboys went from Super Bowl or bust to not even making the playoffs last year.

Coach Wade Phillips, whose laid back demeanor and soft ways sparked the cupcake label, promised change.

He said he is still going to be true to himself. But he will be more demanding.

"I'm not going to change my personality," Phillips said. "I think one of my strengths is getting players to do what I want done. That's what leadership is - getting what you want done, however you have to do it. People are going to feel I'm laid back whether I am or not.

"But what you demand of players and what you ask them to do, there are two different things there. Some things you can demand more and other things you can ask them to do, and if it's not done then you correct it. Some of those things, what I demand, might be different."

They got a glimpse of it during minicamps and OTAS. They were fined for being late for meetings. They ran plays over for penalties and fumbled snaps. Practice was held at crisper pace with less time in between drills.

Phillips has also been more vocal, yelling at players and coaches when things aren't done the way he wants them.

The new Phillips and the new style have gone over well with the players so far.

"He's been more involved, more vocal," linebacker Bradie James said. "There are some things he's been firm about. That's what you need. You need to see him getting in and getting hands-on with us, and that's what he's been doing lately.

"He just let's everybody know he's going to hold them more accountable than he did last year," cornerback Terence Newman said. "Not that he didn't hold people accountable, but that's an emphasis for him. ... He's just letting everybody know that this is the year. This has to be the year."

Indeed.

The Cowboys haven't won a playoff game since 1996.

Phillips knows that if they don't get to playoffs and make a run that this will be his last year in Dallas. He is in the final year of his contract and there have been no talks of an extension.

So there had to be change in Dallas heading into 2009, or there will be change following the season.

CAMP CALENDAR: Players report to camp in San Antonio July 28. First practice July 29. Camp ends Aug. 19.

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