Ladies and gentlemen, Dallas Cowboys football is back. The Cowboys will hold their first practice in Oxnard, Cal., on Thursday. But first – to kick things off – Mike McCarthy, Stephen, and Jerry Jones held an opening press conference Wednesday morning that featured just a bit of everything.

Although football season is back and fans were expecting… well, football talk, they had to wait before getting to it. The first 15-20 minutes were all about the vaccine and the handling of COVID in 2021. Here’s what you need to know about it.

  • Jerry Jones opened things up by pointing out that about 22-24% of the NFL’s attendance last year was from Cowboys’ games. “Just so you know.”
  • Regarding the vaccine, Jerry mentioned most of the team was in what he calls “the pipeline.” This meaning most players have 1 shot or waiting for another. He mentioned that only “a handful of players” still have to commit to this. He immediately clarified, “a handful means five.”
  • Stephen Jones stated he believes the Cowboys will pass the 85% vaccination threshold by Week 1. NFL teams that get past the threshold are subject to fewer restrictions.
  • McCarthy said he wasn’t originally “100% on board with vaccinations.” After consulting with professionals in the medical field and friends though, he changed his mind.

But enough about COVID and vaccines. Let’s get to what Dallas Cowboys fans want to hear about the most. Football. After all, the beginning of training camp feels like New Year’s Eve for many.

Asked about getting Dak Prescott back in practice and involved with the team, McCarthy said “It was great to get Dak back on every level […] He’s the same man every day.” He added that the Cowboys expect their quarterback to be ready to go in practice.

“Unless something comes up, I expect (Prescott) to be a full participant,” McCarthy clarified that it’s still just a projection.

Previously, he mentioned physical evaluations were underway and that it wouldn’t be until Thursday when they know for sure who’s in and who’s out for the first few days. Amari Cooper, DeMarcus Lawrence, and Blake Jarwin are among other Cowboys players who were limited earlier in the offseason.

Later in the press conference, Jerry Jones talked about the Dallas Cowboys having just the right blend of veterans and young players that can be the foundation for championship teams. He discussed special leaders like Michael Irvin that are essential to push an NFL team above and beyond like the 90’s Cowboys.

“You may have it,” said Jerry talking about the 2021 Cowboys, “and it might be your quarterback.” Stephen Jones was quick to add that Dak’s rare, which is why they paid him in the offseason.

Other notes from Cowboys’ opening press conference

  • When asked about how Ezekiel Elliott looks in several offseason clips and social media posts, McCarthy had to ask if that was Joe Looney dressed up as Zeke in a viral post. The Cowboys Head Coach focused on Elliott’s leadership. He mentioned that the two-time NFL rushing champion has been a front-row participant in meetings with quarterbacks and offensive linemen. “Some of the veterans have stepped up and that’s what we need.”
  • Stephen Jones said that in the 30-plus years they have owned the Cowboys, he believes they hadn’t had as many injuries as they did in 2020 relative to the salary cap. On a similar note, McCarthy said “Last year was hard. Every year you have adversity […] but last year we were certainly in the high-end.”
  • Asked about replacing Sean Lee and Tyrone Crawford in important leadership roles, McCarthy made it clear that he hasn’t predetermined that yet and it shouldn’t. “It needs to be organic. That’s where the value comes from.” It’s to be seen in training camp. “We have the right men for this,” he added.
  • As Randy Gregory heads to what could be the biggest year of his career yet, Jerry Jones praised his ability to work through “legitimate life challenges.” He said that he believes Gregory has been able to translate what he’s had to go through personally into the playing field. He also pointed out that despite being with the Cowboys since 2015, Gregory has “no wear-and-tear.” “We’ve never questioned his talent and his uniqueness. I look forward to him really having a big year […] he’s always been worth – in terms of just being a person – he’s been worth the extra investment of time, interest.”
  • Mike McCarthy was asked about the OTAs violations fine faced earlier this year. “We’re doing it the right way.” He said he learned a lot from a conversation with the league office. “There were 7-9 plays that we looked at as a group and frankly the majority of them involved younger players.”

  • “I would do anything known to man to get into a Super Bowl,” Jerry Jones said. “I could be anywhere in the world right now. I want to be here with our team,” he added as he got emotional and teared up. Jerry Jones will turn 79 in October and still wants to win badly.

To top things off, Jerry talked about his relationship with Jimmy Johnson and shared a funny anecdote as the press conference neared its end.

As it turns out, Barry Switzer shares the same question that’s lived in the minds of many other Cowboys fans for years and years…

The Dallas Cowboys will hold their first practice of this year’s training camp on Thursday as the team gets ready for the Hall of Fame Game against the Pittsburgh Steelers on August 5th.

Featured image via Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports