Jerry Jones confirms NFL again penalizing Dallas Cowboys, Mike McCarthy for practice violations

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FRISCO, Texas — For the second straight offseason, the Dallas Cowboys have been penalized.

Violation of NFL policy on OTA practice contact warrants two consequences for the Cowboys, owner and general manager Jerry Jones told reporters on Thursday.

The Cowboys will be docked one of their allotted practice sessions next spring. The league also is fining head coach Mike McCarthy $100,000, the team confirmed on its website.

An NFL spokesperson did not immediately respond to USA TODAY Sports' request for comment.

NFL teams could schedule up to 10 OTA practices and up to three mandatory minicamp practices this year. The Cowboys were among teams who could schedule just nine after a violation last spring cut into their stock. Still, Dallas chose to practice just eight times in OTAs and just once this week for minicamp. The team convened for a group dynamics event at Topgolf on Wednesday before McCarthy dismissed the veterans for summer.

Rookies lifted at The Star on Thursday before meeting with coordinators and position coaches to review individual workout plans for the five-week hiatus ahead. The entire team will travel to Oxnard, California, for training camp on July 25.

Why did the Cowboys cut short their practice load?

“The biggest thing is you have a starting line and finish line,” McCarthy said Thursday morning. “I just felt like we crossed the finish line, particularly with the veterans.”

McCarthy said a primary goal of offseason practices was completing their eight-phase scheme installation. The team reached that mark after Tuesday’s practice on the indoor field of the Ford Center at The Star. McCarthy said team installs spanned 15 phases when he began coaching in the NFL in 1993, before decreasing to 12, 10 and eventually eight around 2011. McCarthy enters his 18th year as a head coach, after spending 15 in Green Bay and now three in Dallas.

“I'm a big believer in less volume and more creativity,” he said. “It's a coaching principle of mine that I adhere to a good 15-20 years. So it makes you work harder, tight, efficient, going into it. I've been in the eight-install mode, probably for a decade now and it works and it definitely works in this new CBA environment.“

Dallas Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy looks on during an offseason practice in Frisco, Texas.
Dallas Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy looks on during an offseason practice in Frisco, Texas.

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The Cowboys also emphasized conversations with officiating crews during their spring work after completing 2021 as the league’s most penalized team. Jones didn’t confirm what triggered the team’s most recent violation, but two young linemen did tussle in the team’s final OTA practice on June 9 — McCarthy confirmed he addressed the situation with each player shortly after practice — and quarterbacks including Dak Prescott were knocked down during the lone minicamp practice.

“You're going to build a relationship that's going to benefit you with the referees as far as how they call it but it does help you to talk to them about, because it's all about getting as close to the line as you can without getting a flag called,” McCarthy said Thursday.

The Cowboys will split training camp time between California and Texas, also visiting Irvine for a joint practice with the Chargers as well as Denver for a joint practice against the Broncos. Dallas will face each of those opponents in a preseason game days after the practice. Twice they’ll have league officials at training camp, after one visit in 2021.

McCarthy declined Thursday to rehash details of last year’s penalties and game-management challenges, including the team’s final snap when time expired before they could execute a final play in a wild-card loss to the 49ers.

“You go back and review all things,” McCarthy said. “‘Hey, how can we be better on this play?’ Obviously, that’s the accountability of it. But as far as what we were trying to get done, we were trying to get the ball moved up another 10, 12 yards to put us in another play selection for the last play.

“As far as the thought and design, because I don’t want to open this can of worms again because I’m going on vacation today: ‘We will be better’ is our focus.

“That needs to be the headline. We will be better and that’s our focus.”

Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Jori Epstein on Twitter @JoriEpstein.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Dallas Cowboys, Mike McCarthy penalized by NFL for practice violation