The Cowboys were a different team after a 3-5 start last season. Now, they have all 22 players who started the postseason game against the Rams returning, plus the comebacks of center Travis Frederick and tight end Jason Witten.
That makes the Cowboys among the favorites in the NFC.
“We understand our identity,” linebacker Jaylon Smith said at his “Earn Your Stripes” camp last week at St. Francis University, via Mark Lane of WFAA. “Last year we spent a lot of time finding who we were as a team, as a unit, individually. So we know that we’re a team that’s going to play hard-nosed football.”
The Cowboys were among the youngest teams in the NFL last season. All their starters in the postseason game were under the age of 30.
Sean Lee, 32, will start at strong side linebacker and Witten, 37, at tight end this season, which will up the team’s average starting age. But the key players at key positions all are under 30.
The Cowboys have built the team to contend for a long time, but they want to win now. They have not played in an NFC Championship Game since 1995, which is the year they won their last Super Bowl.
“Just to feel and taste how close that we were, but we’re a young team,” Smith said. “We’re older now, and we’re energized. So we’ll be ready. We’ve just got to work.”