OXNARD, Calif. — It is the single most anticipated day of training camp.
"This is the day we've been looking forward to," head coach Mike McCarthy said. "This is the work that is the priority, this is the work that you need."
There's just nothing quite like it -- the first day of pads.
"It brings you back to the sense of 'we're back to football'," defensive end Demarcus Lawrence said. "Ain't no more pitty patty, running around in circles and stuff. Now, the real fun begins."
"It just makes you happy," defensive tackle Osa Odighizuwa said. "It's exciting. Just to be able to put it on, makes it feel more real."
As much fun as the first day of pads is, getting this legitimate work in is also incredibly important, as the Cowboys try to sort out who can really play -- especially amongst the youth on the roster.
"It's an opportunity to see a young player, in a competitive situation, go up against a veteran player," McCarthy said. "Because that is a threshold that all these young players have to get over."
But within that fully padded work, they have got to find the line.
"I want it cranked up, I want the juice, I want the fur flying, all that," McCarthy said. "But we don't want unnecessary hits, particularly helmet-to-helmet hits, that put players in a compromised position."
Dallas didn't have issues with helmet-to-helmet hits. But they did see some injuries. Defensive back Jayron Kearse left briefly, after coming down wrong on his foot, and tweaking his knee. He returned to practice, though, and says he will be fine.
But wide receiver James Washington suffered a Jones fracture in his right foot and will be out for several weeks.
The first day of pads is great. There's an aura about it, and the excitement is real. But the second day of pads may just be better.
"Everybody is so hyped to go out here and hit each other, that we forget about our fundamentals and techniques and stuff," Lawrence said. "So to be able to get the first day out of the way, now we can go in, look at film, and adjust. And get back out here tomorrow, I feel like it will be a totally better practice."
The day we've been looking forward to has come. Now football season is really here. But Dallas needs to stay as healthy as they can.