Cowboys hold minicamp at site of next Super Bowl

AP Sports Writer

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) Fans lined the sideline, cheering when Tony Romo’s arrival on the field was shown on the giant video screen overhead. The same when receiver Miles Austin appeared with a wide smile. They responded ecstatically when first-round draft pick Dez Bryant caught a long touchdown pass.

Imagine what it will be like if the Dallas Cowboys are playing in the NFL’s biggest game in nearly eight months.

This was only an offseason minicamp.

Instead of practicing outside in the heat at their Valley Ranch facility, the Cowboys took their Saturday afternoon session inside to Cowboys Stadium – the site of the next Super Bowl.

“The thing you have to do is respect this process,” linebacker Bradie James said. “I wish we could microwave the season and get to December. But you can’t. … But in the back of our minds, we know where the Super Bowl is.”

After the weekend minicamp that wraps up organized offseason activities, the Cowboys don’t start training camp in San Antonio for six more weeks. The season opener at Washington is still three months away.

The Super Bowl will be played Feb. 6 in Cowboys Stadium, and the goal for Dallas is to be the first team to play the Super Bowl in its home stadium.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has no problem imagining just that.

“When I was growing up, I could play for hours and hours and hours, just me in my yard, and play several ball games,” Jones said. “So I can really come in here and imagine, picture this thing, how it’s going to be with all the excitement of a Super Bowl, having it here. You could dream something that could happen that’s never happened before. It’s worth dreaming on. And that’s worth acting on, by the way, if you get an opportunity to act on it too.”

The Cowboys haven’t been to the Super Bowl since winning three in four years the first half of the 1990s after Jones bought the team. Their last championship season was 1995.

Last season, their first in the new $1.2 billion stadium, the Cowboys won the NFC East title. And they got their first playoff victory in 13 seasons, beating Philadelphia at home.

Pro Bowl linebacker DeMarcus Ware said the goal this season is to make it a “little further.” And, yes, the owner is making sure everybody keeps in mind where Super Bowl XLV will be held.

“I know where it is, and the owner knows where it is,” Ware said. “He lets us know where it is every time he talks to us. Every single time. It’s a really big thing. It’s going to motivate us this season. If you are hosting a Super Bowl at home, why not want to play in it.”

Cowboys officials said more than 5,200 people had taken the normal paid tours Saturday. Many of them got the bonus of watching the second practice of the second day of the team’s mandatory minicamp. It lasted about 90 minutes.

Coach Wade Phillips said the team would have only a light session Sunday at its Valley Ranch facility in Irving, about 16 miles away from the stadium.

“Basically, we’re finished with the physical part of our minicamp and our OTAs,” Phillips said. “We’ve made a lot of progress, we’ve got a ways to go. We will start all over with everything on July 24. We are looking forward to that.”

As has become common over the last couple of years under Phillips, the final day of minicamp will be a family day at Valley Ranch. Players can bring their families. There will be lunch and several activities for all of them after a short walkthrough practice.

Phillips wasn’t ready to talk about the possibility of being a home team in the Super Bowl.

“Wow, it’s a long ways ahead,” he said. “You just take it one step at a time, and do what you can do at that time, and I think we’re preparing well right now.”

Still, not every team gets to have a minicamp at the Super Bowl site.

“That’s right,” he said. “It will be a good practice for us. If we get there, it will be like a home field.”

Updated June 12, 2010