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Training Camp Sans Distraction

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    IRVING, TX - DECEMBER 14: Wide receiver Patrick Crayton #84 of the Dallas Cowboys celebrates his touchdown with Miles Austin #19 and Marc Colombo #75 in the second quarter at Texas Stadium on December 14, 2008 in Irving, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

    2009 Cowboys training camp has been a curious one.

    For starters, it's quiet. HBO cameras are gone, as are media sluts like Terrell Owens and Pacman Jones. Players are playing, thinking about and watching football, almost exclusively.

    This is a good thing for any Cowboys fan. Accountability is up and distractions are down which, basically, is just what the doctor ordered after last year's abomination of a season. And tackle/ lead singer of Free Reign / hamburger magnate Marc Colombo has taken notice.

    "Without all the HBO cameras and stuff, that's the way football should be," Colombo said. "You know, it's the way we want it and we're going to go out and do it. That's the way football should be, no made up stories or nothing, just come out here and work hard every day and play as hard as you can."

    The much increased sense of accountability is probably seen most directly in camp in the policy which sends players who miss an assignment to the sideline for the next snap.

    "I think [it helps], you don't want to get in there, you don't want to jump offsides, you dont want to, you know, have a missed assignment, so it holds you accountable each play and you're whole team sees you go out for one play, so you don't want to be a part of that," Colombo continued. "So you work hard at doing the right thing."

    The often laughed-at idea of a toughened-up Wade Phillips seems to be taking shape, though we'll only begin to find out the degree of its effect on Thursday, when Dallas plays its first preseason game at Oakland. For now though, all signs point to a tougher but otherwise unchanged Phillips; one who remains a "player's coach" while making accountability a priority.

    "It is like a little kid in the corner," Colombo said of the new disciplinary measure. "But, you know, it worked then and it works now."