Jason Witten: Taking Training Camp Very Seriously

Keith Brooking

When you hear the word technician, what comes to mind? Working with networks or computers or engines. Well around Cowboys camp the man they call the master technician can often be found working way off in the distance, by himself, after practice.

That's the place where six straight trips to the Pro-Bowl were built for Jason Witten.

"His attention to detail makes me a better coach," says Cowboys tight ends coach John Garrett. "Inches matter to him. On steps, if it is supposed to be a three inch step, he is mad if it is a four inch step. He knows how important technique is and makes it very important on every play. On every aspect of his assignment his footwork, his hand placement, he places so much importance on that so most of the time, he's very successful at what he does."

"You always have to get better," said Witten. "You know you have to find a way to get an edge, to be part of this offense in pass protection. It's an area that's tough for tight ends, going against the DeMarcus Ware's of the world. There's something to work on to always get better," Witten said.

With the Cowboys, Witten started learning to focus on the tiniest of details when he wore #49 as a rookie, trying to earn the star on his helmet, taking tips from Bill Parcells at camp seven years ago.

Then when Jay Novacek paid a visit to the Alamodome before the 2007 season, Witten picked his brain all practice long so that he could be in the position to pass along that info to young guys like Scott Sicko and John Phillips in this years camp.

"You always want to help," said Witten. Any knowledge, you want to pass it on to see those guys use it and take it to the next level and be better because of it. "John (Phillips) has been playing out of this world right now. It is great to see how he takes it from the meeting rooms to practice and from individual, into the team drills. He's playing really well." Phillips is quick to give credit where he believes credit is due.

"I have learned a lot from Jason," said Phillips. "Just watching him, he leads by example. I watch him on film and in practice and in the games. He's the best in the league and it is some honor to stand behind him, soak it in, and add to my game."

And it's not just the young guys that take notice of Witten's determination to be perfect, even in practice.

"It starts with number 82," says veteran linebacker Keith Brooking. "The guys learn a great deal from him. He is a technician. This is my 13th year in the league and I've never seen a guy that brings what he brings to the table, each and every day on the practice field."

And in seven seasons, that's a lot of practices.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times