Monday, April 16 was a big day for the Dallas Cowboys – the official start of spring workouts.
However, for Cowboys defensive backs Jeff Heath and Byron Jones, this day was extra special for a different reason, as this talented duo ventured over to the Ford Center at The Star to do some lacrosse and football drills with three members of the Dallas Rattlers professional lacrosse team.
Rattlers goalie Christian Carson-Banister, midfielder Joe Gillis and forward Zack Greer, who recently signed a contract extension, put Heath and Jones through the paces, first showing them how to shoot and then giving them a crash course on lacrosse faceoffs.
“It’s tougher than it looks,” Jones, a first-round pick of the Cowboys in 2015 who announced a switch to cornerback at the event, said of lacrosse. “I’ll tell you that much.”
Once these drills were complete, Heath and Jones addressed the media, who first asked them about trying lacrosse and then shifted the line of questioning into their thoughts about the Cowboys releasing wide receiver Dez Bryant on Friday.
“When I was in high school, they didn’t even have it as a sport until I was a senior already. I wish we would have had it when I was younger, it seems fun,” Heath said of lacrosse.
After Heath and Jones held court with the media, Carson-Banister, Gillis, and Greer answered a few questions, and judging from every participant’s smiles and responses, it was clear the event was an overwhelming success as the Cowboys and Rattlers players immensely enjoyed the rare opportunity to do drills with their colleagues from another professional sport.
“It was cool to see them on TV and then come out here, they’re just normal guys. It was a lot of fun,” Gattis, an admitted fan of the Cowboys’ NFC East rival, the New York Giants, said.
The Rattlers, who relocated from Rochester after last season, open their first season Major League Lacrosse (MLL) in Dallas this weekend with a road game at Chesapeake (Maryland).
“It’s an incredible facility,” Greer said of the Ford Center. “They’ve done an incredible job here, real excited about getting to play here. There’s not a better venue to play at, especially in our league. To have that opportunity is incredible and just can’t wait to get going and have the season start soon.”
Even with the Cowboys now beginning the busy part of their offseason, which will lead to Organized Team Activities (OTAs) and mandatory minicamps before a short break prior to training camp starting in Oxnard, California in mid to late July, Jones and his teammates will still have their share of free time.
And the affable young corner said he plans to take in a Rattlers game at Ford Center to get an up-close look at a sport he’s earned a quick and healthy appreciation for.
“A hundred percent (I will come to their games), I told them to get me floor tickets,” Jones said. “I’m going to try to sit nice and close to see it.”
That’s the sort of support Carson-Banister and his teammates are hoping for in their new home, not just from the Cowboys, but also from the entire Dallas-Fort Worth lacrosse community.
“Yeah, hopefully, it works a little bit both ways. Obviously, we want to give back and help grow the game when we get here, help the community, high schools, that sort of thing,” Carson-Banister said. “But obviously, we’re hoping the lacrosse community supports us as well, filling the stands and making this a tough place to play for the opposing teams.”