Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Gary Horton Chat...Cowboys Questions

Steve (Jacksonville, FL): How do you see the ultra-tough NFC East shaking out? It seems like every team addressed it's weakness this offseason.

Gary Horton: Actually, I think the NFC East may be the toughest division in the NFL in 2006. Ironically, I've been watching that division on film and I'm really impressed with the Giants upgrading their defense and Washington bringing in a lot of new players. Dallas has improved their personnel and Philly had a good draft. This is going to be a very physical division where the teams beat up on each other. They'll go into the playoffs battle tested, though they may not have the best of records. I like the Giants to come out on top, but with maybe only a 10-6 record.

John (NYC): What did you think of the Cowboys draft this year?

Gary Horton: I loved the fact that they continue to rebuild a young and improved defense. They keep getting players that add to their 3-4 scheme. I think they're going to be a great pass rush group in 2006. It's the kind of defense that Bill Parcells loves.

Top 10 NFL Offenses of Last 25 Years

No. 10
1992 Cowboys
Of all the teams on this list, Dallas had the best balance between offense and defense. But don't underestimate the Cowboys' offense. NFL rushing king Emmitt Smith ran for 1,713 yards and 18 touchdowns and Troy Aikman threw 23 touchdowns in '92. Dallas outgained its opponents by over 100 yards a game and seemingly scored whenever it really needed to. The Cowboys also averaged 38.7 points per game in the playoffs en route to a Super Bowl championship.

No. 9
1996 Packers
Although Brett Favre's brilliance is commonly acknowledged, people tend to overlook the Packers' offense as a whole. Green Bay put up 456 points during the 1996 season (compared with just 210 by their opponents), and in several blowouts the Packers called off the dogs late in the game. Favre tossed 39 touchdowns in '96, while Edgar Bennett and Dorsey Levens combined to give Green Bay a dangerous running game. The Pack beat New England 35-21 to win the Super Bowl that season.

No. 8
1998 Broncos
Though the Broncos had Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway, they were a run-first team that couldn't be stopped on the ground. Relying on a highly skilled line, Terrell Davis had 2,008 rushing yards and 21 touchdowns. When the Broncos did pass, they were very efficient, with Elway throwing to sure-handed receivers Rod Smith and Ed McAffrey and tight end Shannon Sharpe. The Broncos won their second consecutive Super Bowl that season by defeating the Falcons

No. 7
1984 Dolphins
In just his second season, Dan Marino set single-season records for most yards (5,084), touchdown passes (48) and completions (362) as the Dolphins passed their way to a 14-2 record and a trip to the Super Bowl, where they lost to the 49ers. Opponents knew the Dolphins were going to throw often, but thanks to an outstanding offensive line and Marino's quick release, Miami could not be stopped.

No. 6
1981 Chargers
San Diego ran the "Air Coryell" offense to perfection, scoring virtually at will en route to a 10-6 record and a trip to the AFC Championship Game. Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Fouts had a lethal arsenal of receivers, including Wes Chandler, Charlie Joiner and tight end Kellen Winslow. And the Chargers could move the ball on the ground with running backs Chuck Muncie and James Brooks.

No. 5
1998 Vikings
How big a difference did rookie wide receiver Randy Moss make? The Vikes scored 354 points in 1997 and then set an NFL record by scoring 556 points in '98. Quarterback Randall Cunningham had a career resurgence thanks to his ability to throw the long ball to Moss. Running back Robert Smith and receiver Cris Carter also had excellent years to help Minnesota go 15-1. The Vikes eventually fell to the Falcons in the NFC Championship Game.

No. 4
1983 Redskins
Joe Gibbs had already won a Super Bowl, but it was in '83 when he established himself as an offensive genius. The Skins scored 541 points, the second-highest total ever, and finished 14-2. Washington had an unstoppable power game with John Riggins and Joe Washington running behind one of the greatest offensive lines of all time. And the Redskins were dangerous in the air, with QB Joe Theismann throwing to Charlie Brown and Art Monk.

No. 3
2004 Colts
The Colts would score so fast and get such big leads that sometimes they'd have to call off the dogs by the second quarter. Peyton Manning set the all-time record by throwing 49 touchdowns and had a record 121.1 passer rating. The Colts had three receivers with at least 10 touchdowns -- Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne and Brandon Stokley -- and Edgerrin James ran for 1,548 yards.

No. 2
1999 Rams
The "Greatest Show on Turf" was brilliant from 1999 through 2001, and it's difficult to choose one year out of the three as the ultimate Rams offense. But the Rams won the Super Bowl in 1999, and that's when the NFL first realized that stopping St. Louis was virtually impossible. Third-string QB Kurt Warner came out of nowhere to throw 41 touchdowns, and the brilliant Marshall Faulk ran for 1,381 yards and had 1,048 yards receiving.

No. 1
1994 49ers
From their first Super Bowl win in 1981 to their last one in '94, the 49ers consistently had one of the best offenses in the NFL. The '94 version was the highest-scoring of the bunch, led by stars Steve Young, Jerry Rice and Ricky Watters. Young, the MVP that season, completed over 70 percent of his passes and had a then record 112.8 passer rating. The 1984, '87 and '89 San Francisco offenses are also worthy of strong consideration.

New Cowboys o-line hopping right into the fire

By Andy Targovnik on May 31, 2006 12:56 AM

When the Dallas Cowboys kick off their 2006 schedule on September 10, their newly revamped offensive line won't be able to stick their toe in the shallow end of the pool and test the water. They'll have to dive right into the deep end as they face a very physical and effective Jacksonville Jaguars defense. How good is the Jaguars defense?

The numbers speak volumes. In 2005, Jacksonville led the entire NFL in sacks per pass play, was tied for 3rd in overall sacks and points allowed; and was ranked 3rd in overall third down defense.

If the Jaguars had an Achilles heal in 2005, it appeared to be the run. However, appearances can be deceiving. While they were ranked fourteenth overall, allowing 106.8 yards per game, they only allowed 4 rushing touchdowns all year. So when opponents tried to ram it down their throats for 6 points, they couldn't do it.

The opening game in Jacksonville should answer a lot of questions about this new-fangled offensive line.

We'll find out if 32-year old Jason Fabini still has gas left in his tank when he attempts to contain Pro Bowl defensive end Reggie Hayward, who had 8 ½ sacks in 2005. We'll also get a read on the interior offensive line, which includes free agent acquisition Kyle Kosier. They'll have their hands full with outstanding defensive tackles John Henderson and 2005 Pro Bowler Marcus Stroud. And just for good measure, Flozell Adams will get to test his mettle against right defensive end Paul Spicer who racked up 7 ½ sacks last season. This well-balanced Jaguars defensive front by itself will be difficult enough to handle, even before blitzing linebackers and defensive backs are taken into account.

When Bill Parcells traded down in the draft and passed on Marcus McNeill, he was rolling the dice that this new offensive line could do the job. That first game against the Jaguars will be a very good indication of whether Parcells hit the jackpot or crapped out.

Cowboys signed RB Demetris Summers.

Because he's a tailback, we have to pay attention. The former prep school and S. Carolina stud has had troubles with marijuana on the past, but will compete for a roster spot as a fourth running back in Dallas.

May. 31 - 7:00 pm et

Cowboys draft pick on the shelf

02:15 AM CDT on Wednesday, May 31, 2006
By TODD ARCHER / The Dallas Morning News

IRVING – E.J. Whitley's season ended before it really began.

The offensive lineman out of Texas Tech, one of the Cowboys' two seventh-round picks, had surgery Tuesday on a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. He was injured during a rookie minicamp this month.

"Jerry Jones told E.J. immediately after it happened that he thought it could be a positive, that he could use the off-season to learn and get acclimated and work in the weight room," Whitley's agent, Jeff Nalley, said.

The rookies signed injury protection waivers before the minicamp, meaning the Cowboys would negotiate a contract in good faith regardless of the severity of an injury. None of the Cowboys' draft picks is under contract. The club generally waits until July to begin talks with agents.

Cowboys cut Thornton, add running back

The Cowboys released linebacker Kalen Thornton and signed rookie free-agent running back Demetris Summers.

Thornton missed the 2005 season after suffering a fractured tibial plateau in his left knee during training camp. He underwent surgery on September 13 to repair the knee and spent the season on injured reserve.

Thornton signed with Dallas as a rookie free agent in 2004 out of the University of Texas. He had eight tackles while playing mostly as a nickel pass rusher. Thornton also had 13 tackles on special teams.

Summers, a 5-11, 214-pound running back from South Carolina, had two tryouts with the Cowboys before signing with the club.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

The Forgotten Man? Or the Man on the Spot?

by vincent sample

Well, you don’t have to be a genius or read hear everyday to know my optimistic thoughts on the Cowboy’s chances of winning a championship next season. But with all the attention paid to the draft and acquisition of Carpenter to be the bookend Outside linebacker to Demarcus Ware – the controversy about picking up a Notre Dame tightend Fasano with our second round pick which was the harbinger of an even more controversial decision that the team would be switching to a new ‘Juiced-up’ version of the two-tightend set – And BOY!, less-we-forget we diiiid sign this guy, Terrel Owens, this off season who is only about the best receiver in the game — it seems that the man that just might be poised to finally explode in this league is almost an after though – Julius Jones.

It seemed that from the day Julius was picked the Cowboy’s fan base was luke-warm about him. Emmitt Smith had just been seemingly ousted with the arrival of Bill Parcells in 2002 and after the 2003 season with the sub par performance from then runningback Troy Hambrick, the obvious need for the Boys was a running back. The then consensus number one back in the draft was Steven Jackson of Oregon State. The prospects of Jackson being there with the 22nd pick were slim, but at least Dallas would probably have the next best guy, the speedy Kevin Jones of Virginia Tech fall into their laps. What happened? It seemed obvious – especially to oft disgruntle Cowboy fans who hate our owner – Jerry Jones struck again, highjacking the draft from our first year Hall of Fame head coach, traded down, trading away a shot at our back of the future completely out of the 1st round with Jackson siting right there. Many swore they would never be fans again. That trade produced Julius Jones with the 11th pick in the second round and 5th round pick TE Shaun Ryan. Now that may not be what exactly happened in the war room, but until Jones panned out, that was going to be the feeling.

Jones had a sometimes spectacular, but often up and down career for the Irish. He was one of only 4 players in Notre Dame history to rush for over 3000 yards. Even future Hall of Famer Jerome Bettis did not do that, and the 5-foot-10, 214 pound Jones did it in just 3 years because he had to sit out the 2002 season. He returned in 2003 to rush for 1,268 yards and 10 touchdowns, including 262 on 24 carries against rival Pitt at Heinz Field despite often splitting time and not starting every game. You can also add to that that the Irish had a miserable passing offense and everyone in the country knew it, and teams often keyed on Jones. He finished his four-year career at Notre Dame with 3,018 yards, 4.8 per carry and 26 touchdowns – Impressive.

Once he got to the pros, he had a promising training camp and preseason. But he hurt his ribs and tried to pull himself out of a game which lead Parcells, seemingly with a grudge to not him in the season opener – expectations where high and it was if Bill wanted to prove to the world that the team had done the right thing in taking Jones. Instead, in the first game of the season, Jones was hurt, and lost for half the season prompting the washed up Eddy George to be the feature back. That coupled with the rib injury and all the intense media lead to the perception of an injury prone player. The injury would turn out to be a broken collar bone ( not exactly an injury normally associated with being injury prone ). The team decided to leave Jones on the roster and some of the best, most exciting runs in Cowboy history would be the result. Jones returned to play in 7 games and finished the season with 819 yards. He had performances of 149, 150, and 198, and he showed a burst and a wiggle that seemed to some of us ‘sacrilegious fans’ to even top that of Emmit Smith.

That 7 games was enough to earn Julius endorsements and magazine covers as the ‘next big thing – to be’ in the NFL.

But a slow start and yet another injury in the 05 season showed Julius just how quickly the world can turn on you. Now you hear grumbling that this inconsistent back should be traded-in in favor of his stable mate Barber who had a few good games and who runs hard; That we should not be duped into thinking he is the back of the future. BALDERDASH!!! Now, I don’t normally use that word. And I’m not 100% certain I know what it means – but I know it’s in the family with YOU MUST BE CRAZY.

With nothing more than my credibility on the line ( I don’t get paid for my credibility so some of you may chalk this up to hyperbole ) but I guarantee that Jones is THE guy and will go so far as to stake my credibility on the fact that Julius gets over 1300 yards this season. Now that; despite the fact that he will be losing probably 8 carries a game to his stable-mates Barber, who will be used as a third down back and Thompson, who will be a change of pace. Julius is a dynamic and explosive back reminiscent of the greats. That is the reason why so many were willing to heap such praise on him with so few glimpses of his skills. It is that evident that quickly. But as in most cases with the media, they are too quick to praise and too quick to bury. Longevity and durability are major products in the equations that makes a great back, but I don’t think JJ is in the least injury prone. A break is something difficult to prevent. And anyone who says the Philly game in which Jones acquired his high ankle sprain, a lesser man might be lost for the season. It looked terrible, and it was not his fault. I will be the first to say, sometime a back has to have awareness and pack it in when the run is over, but Jones has never had that problem as a runner.

Throughout his short career, Jones has averaged whopping 5 yards per carry on sprints, draws, and traps. He is about at 3 per carry on power plays. Most of that can be attributed to the fact that that offensive line was not adequately equipped to block opponents when the opponents had a good idea of what was going to be run due to down, distance, and scheme. Also, in my opinion, Parcells, early on, had a hand in stunting Jones’s performance by schooling him not to give up negative plays. Listen, a good running back who makes his bones with quick moves and cutting is going to lose yards. Barry Sanders was the greatest culprit of that of all time. How Many Times Do I Have To Say It:, Julius Jones is not Ernest Byner. He is not a battering ram he is a gazelle poised to make great runs. To make great runs, often the back has to set up the situation – scheme does this with traps and draws, but in lue of scheme, a back has to create on his own. That leads to big runs sometimes and losses at others. When Parcells admonished Julius on this point, I saw opportunities lost by coaching on several plays I feel JJ could have broken. By the end of the season, with the season and the playoffs on the line, Parcells took of the handcuffs and JJ did much better turning in a 194 yard performance against one of the leagues toughest defenses.

Now that Parcells has seen the error of his coaching ways and JJ has a big chip on his sholder, I think 07 will be the break out year for Julius. The Cowboys offense is going to be a nightmare for opposing coordinators to scheme for. With the addition of T.O. it will difficult to impossible for safeties to play in the box. To me, T.O. had a lot to do with helping the smallish Brian Westbrook get his 28 million dollar contract. Jones is a better back than Westbrook. With Witten and Terry Glenn in the game it will be necessary for teams to protect the deep threat and the intermediate and underneath routes or risk being picked apart. But when you do that, you leave Jones to work that magic we have seen him do. The man is haaaaaaaard to tackle one-on-one in the open field. He is stronger than people give him credit of and as 4.4 forty speed. With the lanes given to him by T.O and the advent of the two-tightend offense, draws and traps are going to be a staple of the offense.

Mark my words, at the end of the 2008 season, all you naysayers will be praising Julius Jones as the next in the line of Hall of Fame Cowboy runningbacks. The Spotlite is waiting.

Peter King Cowboys Mail

Peter King's Tuesday Mailbag

EVEN THIS COWBOYS FAN LAUGHS AT MY PICK. From Elizabeth Pugliese, of Washington, D.C.: "I have been a Dallas fan practically all my life. But Dallas in the Super Bowl this year? No way. It will be another disappointing year. They forgot to address their most glaring need: an actual quarterback. Drew Bledsoe cannot get it done in the clutch -- or any other time. It is not just his lack of mobility (moving in one game does not make him a mobile quarterback); he does not make good throwing decisions, he can't throw accurately enough to ensure that the ball gets to the guy on the route, etc. Then there is T.O. It is all the same hype from when he went to Philly. When he is not getting the ball, regardless of what Bill Parcells has said, he is going to throw temper tantrums, then short-arm passes to prove how important he is. No way. I'm not even holding my breath for the playoffs this year."
Gee, Elizabeth. You just lost your seat on the Cowboys bandwagon. Imagine a fan of a team that went 9-7 last year, with a Hall of Fame coach and a rising-star defense, and in May you say you don't have hope for the playoffs. That's the kind of fan I want on my side. What faith. What loyalty.

Cowboys Day on NFL NETWORK

Originally Posted by Cowboyznut from a sports forum:

For those with NFL Network:
Thursday will be "Cowboy's Day"

It will start with a look at the 1995 Cowboys by NFL films.

Next it will show SB XXX win over Pitt

Last it will show GOTW vs. Cheifs.

Check local listings for times.

RECAP: Tony Romo on Sirius

Originally Posted by Parcells316 from a sport forum:

1) He just said he was throwing it around with TO and he told him to run a deep in and Tony said he didn't run the route the way Dallas runs it so he told TO that and TO was real receptive to the criticism which surprised him. He said he's been a great teammate so far.
2) He also said TO was upset about his contract in Philly, and while fans rightfully don't understand that, the players do.
3) Romo loves Parcells. He won't stop talking about him.
4) Misses LA but says he and the team thinks the o-line will be a more cohesive and better unit no matter what anyone else thinks.
5) Romo said Julius and QB play are the keys to the season. He sounds like a real confident guy. He said he and the coaching staff are real confident in his abilities.
6) Thinks Parcells will coach 2 more years.
7) Golf game is struggling.
End of interview.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Can the Cowboys stop the run?

By Andy Targovnik on May 22, 2006 01:30 AM

With the drafting of Bobby Carpenter and an improved secondary, many observers feel the Dallas Cowboys will improve upon their number 11 ranking against the pass in 2005. However, their run defense is a different matter entirely.

In 2005, the Dallas Cowboys run defense ranked a very mediocre 15th in the NFL, allowing just over 108 yards a game and 4.2 yards per carry. Compare that to the teams that made it to their respective championship games: Denver, Pittsburgh, Carolina and Seattle were ranked 2nd through 5th respectively against the run.

Normally, a good way to render a 3-4 defense impotent is to run right at it. With Jason Ferguson on the downside of his career, the Dallas Cowboys need a strong presence at inside linebacker to help stifle opponents' running backs.

Returning inside linebacker Bradie James has seen his tackle totals gradually increase over the course of his three-year career, from 13 in 2003, to 46 in 2004, to 93 last year. But with the retirement of Dat Nguyen, the Cowboys have a huge void to fill to complement James.

Enter free agent acquisition Akin Ayodele, an outside linebacker from the Jacksonville Jaguars . Although Ayodele has exclusively played outside, the Cowboys signed him to play inside.

Ayodele has recorded 349 tackles in his four-year career, including 116 in 2003. Although his tackles have gone down the last two years, his numbers were still respectable considering he played outside. Now, with Carpenter added to the mix to complement DeMarcus Ware at the outside position, Bill Parcells is counting on Ayodele to stop the run.

The 2005 conference final participants were all strong in the middle. Denver had Al Wilson, Pittsburgh had Joey Porter and James Farrior(a former Parcells' first round pick with the Jets); Carolina had Dan Morgan, and Seattle had Lofa Tatupu. So the bottom line is this: You can have the best pass defense in the world, but if you let the other team ram the ball down your throat to the tune of four yards a carry, you're not going anywhere.

Cowboys abroad

By Os Davis on May 24, 2006 01:56 AM

With the close of the NFL Europe season, NFL front-office types will be taking a long, hard look at what their allocated players have done overseas in football's version of summer school. A trio of guys have represented the Cowboys in Germany this year ... and what have Jerry Jones and Bill Parcells seen? Following are report cards for three remedial Cowpokes as they once again try to graduate into football's higher realms.

Tom Crowder, wide receiver/safety/special teams. To be frank, Crowder has been little more than a hanger-on in Dallas after something of a promising career for the Arkansas Razorbacks. Since spending time on all sides of the ball in university, it's been all downhill.

After going undrafted in 2004, Crowder signed with Dallas but could not make the final roster. No problems there, as Crowder was given two shots on the Cowboy practice roster - once listed at WR, the second at safety. In 2005, he saw exactly one game as a Cowboy, the finale at New York; "saw" being the operative word, for Crowder saw zero action in that game.

Unfortunately, Crowder has seen precious little playing time for the Frankfurt Galaxy as well. His season has resembled a European vacation, returning a mere three kickoffs for a total of 54 yards and catching seven passes for 62 yards. As deep as the Cowboys' preseason roster is, Crowder has done little to make an impression and thus augment his chances of moving off the practice squad in any capacity. Here's a guy who is living up to the epitaph "Jack of all trades, master of none." Grade: F

Lenny Williams, cornerback. Now here's a guy who has managed to make an impression. Playing alongside Crowder in Frankfurt, Williams produced a nice stat line on special teams: sixteen kickoff returns for 406 yards, an average of 25.4 per, and a long of 57. On D, Williams led the team with eleven passes defensed (that's in a nine-game season). On paper at least, Williams is improving on his impressive run at Southern University, went an amazing two full seasons without allowing a TD pass.

Unfortunately, NFL Europe can't teach you size. Williams' average (at best) height - he's listed at 5'10" in the Galaxy media guide, 6'0" in the Cowboys' - and 190 pounds have worked against him a bit in two years of trying to make the big boys' squad. Nevertheless, the numbers don't lie, and Williams may pleasantly surprise in time for the opener. Grade: A-

Drew Henson, quarterback. He may be the most watched player in NFL Europe hisotry, a love-him-or-hate-him guy who is either said to be a CFL-bound scrub or a potential heir apparent to Drew Bledsoe. (If only the Tuna would give him more of a chance...) After attempting a grand total of eighteen passes in two seasons with the 'Boys, Henson doubtlessly saw his assignment to the Rhein Fire as a chance just to play some gosh darn honest-to-Lombardi football, if nothing else.

Henson received his share of media scrutiny, forecast as "one to watch" in the 2006 season. Watch they did as Drew had his Fire burning through four wins in the first four weeks. Then, those pesky "intangibles" came into play, and the wheels came off the Rhein bus.

In Week Five, after racking up thirty-one points mostly on offense, the Fire lost the ball to a drive-killing interception. The team promptly dropped four of five and played themselves out of championship contention. Henson was replaced as starter by the time what would become Rhein Fire elimination week rolled around, and got nothing going after coming off the bench for the second half in the crucial game. In the final game, Henson managed just eight completions on twenty passes for 133 yards and one TD.

So what to make of this enigma called Drew Henson, then? His 84.2 QB rating was second-best in the league among starters, and his TD/interception ratio - ten against three - was impressive and his completion rate stayed around the 55% mark for most of the season. The sole question for Henson and the Dallas front office to decide is how much the Fire's fizzle can be blamed on the QB, and how much of its sizzle can be credited to him. With the Tuna promising to bring quite a few quarterbacks to camp, Henson appears to be facing another uphill battle with coaches and fans. And his leadership abilities will be questioned. Grade: C+

Is Bledsoe getting too much of a fair shake?

By Andy Targovnik on May 26, 2006 12:25 AM

If you judge Drew Bledsoe's career by the numbers only, he is a lock for the Hall of Fame.

Entering his fourteenth NFL campaign, Bledsoe is 7th all-time in passing yards, having just passed Dan Fouts in 2005. He is also 13th all time in passing touchdowns, only 10 behind Fouts. Additionally, Fouts never played in a Super Bowl while Bledsoe led the 1996 New England Patriots to the Big Dance. He also chipped in to help the Pats win a Super Bowl back in 2001. Since Fouts was a shoe-in for the Hall of Fame, it stands to reason that Bledsoe will make it too, right?

Not so fast. Most NFL fans will tell you that while the Fouts election was a no-brainer, Bledsoe will be a borderline case. I believe there are three reasons for this:

First, even though most Hall of Fame quarterbacks have played for more than one franchise, they had already earned their Hall of Fame credentials with their original squad. The rest was just icing on the cake. Joe Montana and Warren Moon ended their careers with other franchises, but the fact remains that had they retired instead, they still would have made the Hall.

Now take Bledsoe: He had his best years early in his career in New England. When he was traded to the Bills, he was still not considered a great player. That perception was cemented by the fact that New England became a dynasty immediately after Bledsoe left town. And even though Bledsoe made a huge contribution in the playoffs against Pittsburgh during New England's first winning Super Bowl run, the only Patriot quarterback that people care to mention is Tom Brady. So Bledsoe needed to do something special as a Bill to establish himself as a Hall of Famer whereas the aforementioned players were playing with house money when they left their original cities.

After a very good first year, Bledsoe's last two seasons in Buffalo were quite forgettable. As a Cowboy last year, he had his moments, but threw some huge interceptions that helped keep the Dallas Cowboys out of the playoffs.

Second, even though Bledsoe is typically considered part of his team, the present Hall of Fame quarterbacks were their team. Mention the Chargers in the 80's, you think of Fouts. Mention the Houston Oilers of the 80's and 90's and you think of Moon. But when you think of the Patriots of the early 90's, you're more likely to think of Bill Parcells than Bledsoe.

Finally, in almost anything in life, it's not only what you do but it's often how you look doing it. In some cases, especially when pressured, Bledsoe looks awkward when he throws. Picture Troy Aikman, Dan Marino, Montana, Moon, and even Jim Kelly and you think of their throwing motion as a thing of beauty. But picture Bledsoe and you think of a guy getting happy feet, patting the ball numerous times and throwing off his back foot.

What would make Bledsoe a lock for Canton? A good statistical year? Nope. One thing and one thing only will assure him his plaque: Another Super Bowl appearance. He might get it in anyway based on his compiled statistics, but unless he gets back to the Big Dance, it's anything but a guarantee.

Minicamp about more than T.O.

Dallas Morning News
08:20 PM CDT on Thursday, May 25, 2006
Todd Archer

IRVING - The Cowboys will hold their one and only veterans minicamp next week, and all eyes, of course, will be on Terrell Owens.

Since signing with the Cowboys, Owens has been the story of the off-season, so much so that the first 35 questions of Bill Parcells' post-draft news conference were about Owens.

On June 2, the Cowboys finally get their first on-field look at Owens. He has spent the week getting accustomed to the Cowboys' offense and will remain for the four days of on-field training activities that follow the minicamp.

But there's more to the Cowboys than Owens, and the minicamp should provide a glimpse of things to come in July when training camp begins in Oxnard, Calif.

Here's a sampling of things to look for:

How does Flozell Adams look?
The veteran left tackle is expected to take part in the minicamp after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his knee last October. Parcells said in February that Adams' rehab was going nicely and that having Adams back should make the offensive line a lot better in 2006.

Remember, Rob Petitti's work was not scrutinized until Adams went out because the Cowboys could no longer slide help to Petitti at right tackle. It will also be interesting to see Adams work without Larry Allen next to him for the first time.

Who is Kyle Kosier?
He will replace Allen and was given a $5 million signing bonus to do so. He can play guard or tackle, but the Cowboys need Kosier to be a player because most of Drew Beldsoe's issues come from up the middle.

A minicamp aside: Do not rush to judgment on reports of a lineman, offensive or defensive, doing well or poorly in a minicamp. It's almost impossible to judge without the pads.

That being said, you can see things like athleticism and footwork, which are supposed to be some of Kosier's strengths.

Akin Ayodele to inside linebacker
The Irving native will take over Dat Nguyen's spot, playing inside linebacker for the first time in his career. He has the athletic ability to handle the spot, but it's also an instinct-based position, flowing to spots and making plays. This will be on-the-job training of sorts, but Ayodele was at the rookie camp as a spectator, so that was good to see.

Mike Vanderjagt
We know he can kick, even if his last miss vs. Pittsburgh in the playoffs was a bad one. But he needs to prove he can kick off. He did a decent job of it in 2003, and he says Indy general manager Bill Polian was bent on finding a kickoff specialist the past two years. Never will a kicker's kickoff work in minicamp be so studied.

The rookies getting adjusted
Jason Hatcher, a third-round pick, was the talk of the rookie minicamp, but now he will get to go against veterans. Can he come close to duplicating what he did earlier in the month? If he can, then the Cowboys have a real find. If not, it's not the end of the world either.

The rookies will notice a new tempo and feel for the game early on. They all go through it. Those who adjust quicker, like Patrick Crayton did in 2004, will earn Parcells' praise.

Conditioning, conditioning, conditioning
We know Parcells wanted Montavious Stanley and Skyler Green to lose weight after the rookie camp. Now we get to see what kind of shape they came back to town in, as well as some veterans who have battled the bulge, like Andre Gurode, Petitti and Marcus Spears.

DeMarcus Ware was asked to gain 10 pounds in the off-season. Can he remain as explosive at 260 pounds as he was a year ago at 250?

And the free safety is ...

Keith Davis started there a year ago, and the Cowboys matched an offer from New Orleans to keep him in the fold. Marcus Coleman, a Parcells favorite from the Jets, is with the club on a one-year deal. Justin Beriault is coming back after missing his rookie season with a knee injury. And rookie Pat Watkins is a possibility. And there's Willie Pile, too.

Coleman has the best ball skills, but Davis is the best hitter. Beriault showed flashes in training camp last year of being around the ball.

This should be a battle that heats up in Oxnard.

Taming T.O.

May 26, 2006
Michael Bradley
For Sporting News

Andre Tippett felt he had earned it. He was, after all, a 34-year-old 11-year veteran. As the Patriots' 1993 training camp wore on -- and the heat, contact and boredom asserted themselves -- Tippett craved a day off.

He floated the idea to new coach Bill Parcells. "I thought it was my time," Tippett says. It was his time, all right -- time to learn about Parcells.

"He said, 'I'm not going to give you a day off, but if you think you need it, take it,' " Tippett says. "That left me on the spot. I thought, 'I better show up for practice.' "

Tippett showed up, but he had given Parcells some ammunition. For the next few practices, Parcells kept asking whether Tippett "had enough left in the tank" to play a full season. "He said, 'If you're so tired, take a couple days off. Go ahead and do that,' " Tippett recalls. All of a sudden, Tippett wasn't a five-time Pro Bowl player. He was a rookie again.

"I went back to my room and questioned myself," Tippett says. "I started running an extra lap at the end of practice. I lifted a little more and ate a little less. I committed myself to having my best year."

Tippett finished the '93 season -- his last in the NFL -- with 8.5 sacks and four fumble recoveries. And he played in all 16 games. Not bad for a tired old man. He credits Parcells with inspiring him to find that reserve supply of fuel and use every drop. And he serves as one of dozens of testimonials to the power of the Tuna, the NFL's master psychologist.

"He will try to find out what your weaknesses and strengths are," Tippett says. "He will go after your pride. He'll find out how motivated you are."

This summer, Parcells will probe the mystifying mind of Terrell Owens in what could constitute his biggest challenge. In T.O., who signed a three-year, $25 million deal with the Cowboys, Parcells confronts a shrink's dream. Equal parts dramatically petulant and supremely gifted, the wide receiver has mixed mayhem and genius in San Francisco and Philadelphia. He has criticized teammates and coaches, divided locker rooms and done everything to attract attention short of holding his breath until turning blue.

Now, he's wearing Cowboys blue, and everybody wants to know how Parcells will transform the selfish star into the team player. That has been Parcells' hallmark since the autocratic coach took over the Giants in 1983.

For the most part, Parcells' former players and coaches think Owens won't be any different from Lawrence Taylor, Bryan Cox, Terry Glenn, Keyshawn Johnson or the many other hard cases who were transformed into "Parcells guys."

"I don't think he'll have any problems with T.O.," says Browns offensive coordinator Maurice Carthon, who played for and coached with Parcells for 15 years. "I know what I've heard about T.O. I know what type of player he is. I don't think his problem is not doing what he's supposed to do; it's more about being the highest-paid (receiver).

"Bryan Cox was one of the most hated players in the NFL when he came to us in New York. If he can coach Cox, T.O. will be easy."

Maybe. Cox was tough, but he was never sent home midway through a season, as Owens was last year with the Eagles. L.T. was a madman off the field but the consummate big-game performer on it. Even Johnson quieted his hyperactive mouth long enough to mature into a better all-around player under Parcells.

The question is not whether Parcells can deal with Owens; it's whether T.O. can handle Parcells' constant quest for perfection, his single-minded approach to team and the stream of sarcasm he uses to break weak-hearted players.

Neither of Owens' previous coaches -- the 49ers' Steve Mariucci and the Eagles' Andy Reid -- is anything like Parcells, who keeps pushing until he's certain players can be trusted in the most stressful on-field circumstances. Mariucci was too nice. Reid tried to let his players defuse problems, and that didn't work. Parcells simply won't tolerate any behavior that compromises his team. Never has and -- at a cantankerous 64 -- probably never will.

"It's still up in the air," says Darren Woodson, a five-time Pro Bowl safety who played one season (2003) for Parcells. "I'm sure T.O. has been babied and pampered. But he can have 13 catches, 185 yards and two touchdowns in a game and he'll still be doing something wrong. He'll miss a block, jog off the line or run the wrong route, and Parcells will be in his face. I know it will happen.

"How well will T.O. handle it? Will he say, 'There's room for me to get better?' Or will he tank it?"

When he sat down for his news conference before the Cowboys' May minicamp, Parcells had to expect an onslaught of inquiries about his new wideout. But 35 consecutive questions about how he would handle T.O.? Nearly halfway through the examination, Parcells laid it out.

"I told him what I expected of him," Parcells said. "Sometimes, when a player's new and he doesn't know you, you're going to have to reinforce that as you go. But as I say, I'm not approaching this with the idea that it's going to be adversarial or that I'm going to be mandating every little thing that this player does. I don't do that with any player.

"I tell him, 'Be on time, pay attention, be in condition and play hard in the games.' That's the rule. And stay out of trouble in terms of issues that are in the community or with women or strip clubs. I tell them all that."

There it is, the Parcells Manifesto. Seems pretty straightforward, until you read a little more closely. The part about how he might have to "reinforce that as you go?" It's a euphemism for I'm going to ride your ass until you do it my way -- every time.

Ask Adrian Murrell. He played for Parcells with the Jets in 1997. He rushed 40 times for 156 yards in a 31-14 win over the Bengals and was feeling pretty good about it until Parcells delivered a hefty downer. "You left yards on the field," he snapped. Murrell admits he missed a couple of reads that could have brought more yards. "He gets on you, win or lose," says Murrell, who played three games with the Cowboys in 2003. "He doesn't care who you are."

That's because Parcells is an avowed enemy of complacency. A great single-game performance means nothing. "I don't know how many times I heard him say (sarcastically) to a player after a good game, 'You've arrived. You don't have to get any better,' " Woodson says. Players who succeed under Parcells don't take the verbal shots personally; instead, they use them to forge ahead.

"When he's got guys he can beat up on, prod along and get them going, he'll take a team that isn't a great team and make it great and put it in position to win games," says former nose tackle Jim Burt, who played for Parcells with the Giants from 1983-88 and remains close to the coach.

When Parcells told reporters he didn't anticipate an "adversarial" relationship with Owens, it was bull. It's going to be adversarial -- all the time. Parcells wants his players to work so hard that he won't have to say anything -- which never happens, by the way.

Joe Morris knows that. He played for Parcells with the Giants from 1983-89 and was a key member of the '86 Super Bowl championship team. He rushed for 1,516 yards and 14 touchdowns. But in a late-season game against the 49ers, Morris carried 13 times for a mere 14 yards. "They said, 'We're going to take Joe Morris away and let Phil Simms beat us,' " Morris says. And Simms did, throwing for 388 yards and two touchdowns, including one to Morris. Before the two teams met again in the playoffs, Parcells didn't care that the 49ers had stacked their defense against the run in the earlier game.

"All week, he kept saying, 'I've got a running back who ran for 1,500 yards, and all he got against San Francisco was 14 yards. Hey, Joe, are you going to get 14 yards this week?' " Morris says. "I was thinking, 'Bill, how about the fact that I caught a touchdown pass in that game?' He didn't care."

The upshot? Morris rushed for 159 yards and two touchdowns in a 49-3 rout. "He can challenge your manhood and put your pride to the test," Morris says.

Then there's that part about "not mandating every little thing that this player does." Ted Johnson laughs at that. The former Patriots linebacker played two years for Parcells and recalls a special teams drill during training camp in 1995, his rookie season.

"I was fourth-string right end on field-goal protection," Johnson says. Because he wasn't exactly a vital part of the process, Johnson decided to see the sights. "I'm over there checking out the girls when all of a sudden I hear, 'Where's Johnson?' Parcells is over there yelling at me, 'He's too good. He doesn't need to work on special teams.' " The message for T.O.? He had better keep a close eye on all of his responsibilities because Parcells will be paying attention.

Some might say Parcells' demand that players control themselves off the field is open to interpretation. That's because Taylor often was a mess away from football. "He's a different story," says former defensive tackle Ray Agnew, who played two seasons ('93-94) for Parcells in New England. "He's one of the greatest players in the history of the league." Though many former Parcells acolytes insist the coach is egalitarian in his abuse, Taylor received special treatment. "We knew everybody wasn't treated the same," Morris says.

The difference with L.T. was that he always delivered on the field. Still, Parcells wouldn't spare the linebacker all the time. "We played Tampa Bay, and we knew we should beat them. But there was Bill telling L.T., 'Taylor, they have (linebacker) Hugh Green over there; he's a better player than you,' " Morris says.

The results would be the same almost every time. Taylor would dominate the game, the Giants would win it, and Parcells would keep carping. Those who could take it and then deliver every Sunday became his "guys." Parcells always has rewarded loyalty with loyalty. And if he did push too hard -- even he could realize it -- he would throttle back in private, asking about a player's family or financial situation.

"The game to him is personal," Woodson says. "It's almost like that fight you get into with your buddies. There's always one buddy who will be there through thick and thin -- jumping in whether you're winning or losing. That's Parcells. He's got a lot of fight in him. He works hard every week on offense, defense and special teams. You know he's done his homework. You don't get that from every coach in the league. A lot of them manage.

"He coaches."

At one point in the Parcells press conference, someone asked what he'll do if Owens attacks Cowboys quarterback Drew Bledsoe, as he did Jeff Garcia in San Francisco and Donovan McNabb in Philadelphia.

"Now we're talking about hypotheticals," Parcells shot back. But Bledsoe doesn't mind what-ifs. And he sounds optimistic when asked how he'll handle Owens' volatile nature. "It's not all that different from situations I've dealt with in the past, when receivers didn't get to touch the ball as many times as they wanted and got upset," he says.

Bledsoe has been through it with Glenn and Keyshawn Johnson. He refers to last year's game in Philadelphia, when Glenn was the target of double-teams throughout the first three-plus quarters. "I told him, 'They've decided this is the guy (Glenn) that we're going to take away,' " Bledsoe says. "I said, 'Let's be patient.' "

In the fourth quarter, with the Cowboys trailing, 20-7, Bledsoe engineered a 72-yard drive that ended with a 20-yard scoring pass to Glenn. "At the end, they took a gamble and covered him one-on-one, and he ended up catching a big touchdown pass," Bledsoe says. The Cowboys went on to win, 21-20.

Bledsoe will try to anticipate how Owens will be covered and try to prepare his teammate for what might happen. It's not always going to be a 10-catch, 150-yard day. Parcells was similarly pre-emptive when he said, "In this offense, you're not going to catch 100 balls. It's just not going to happen, so you have to be ready for that." That was a "shot across the bow," according to Murrell.

"He's being proactive, not only with T.O. but with the media and everybody else in terms of changing the expectations people may have," Bledsoe says. "It's not an offense where you can get 100 catches and set records. We have too many weapons. It's also not the style of football we're going to play."

You know what style the Cowboys are going to play: Parcells' style. He's the captain, and this is his ship.

T.O. would be wise to get on board.

This is Flozell Adams’ time

Adams must take lead role
Wed May-24-06 12:32 PM
Jean-Jacques Taylor

This is Flozell Adams’ time.

That sounds strange, doesn’t it? But it’s true. The performance of the offensive line is the key to the Cowboys’ success this season, and don’t let anyone tell you anything different.

It’s not about T.O. Or Drew Bledsoe. Or Julius Jones.

It’s not even about Bill Parcells – unless he’s going to strap on a helmet. It’s about the offensive line protecting Bledsoe and giving Jones and Marion Barber holes to run through.

That means this season is about Adams.

Larry Allen, he of the 10 Pro Bowl appearances, is gone. That means the leadership mantle falls to Adams. Guard Marco Rivera is a descending player, but Adams remains in his prime, even though he’s coming off a season-ending knee injury.

Last season, fans and critics found out how important he was to the offense when he went down in Week 6. Adams has always given the impression that football is just one aspect of his life like any other job. Those close to him say that’s not true.

They talk about his passion for the game and the frustration he feels when the offense isn’t producing like he knows it can. They talk about the way he changed the seating assignments in the offensive line meeting room last season to sit next to Torrin Tucker and give him all the help he could.

Adams must take even more of a leadership role this season. He must set the tone with his performance, his practice and his study habits. He must lead the way for an offensive line that has many more questions than answers at this point of the off-season.

He’s the highest-paid lineman and one of two players – Greg Ellis is the other – with the most tenure on the roster. He has been to the Pro Bowl. He knows what it takes to be the best in the league.

Now, he must fight to regain that stature. In the process, he must become a team leader for the first time in his career. It’s no longer just about doing his job on the field.

It’s about making sure others do theirs. That is the responsibility that comes with being an important veteran. It’s a role he must embrace.

And it’s a duty he finally seems ready to handle. He will make the Cowboys significantly better, if he does.

Former Cowboys RB coach Brodsky dies

Prostrate cancer claims coach who tutored Smith, other backs during early 1990s

12:27 AM CDT on Sunday, May 28, 2006

By TODD ARCHER / The Dallas Morning News

IRVING – When Emmitt Smith thanked those who helped make him the NFL's all-time leading rusher at his retirement announcement, his running backs coach for eight seasons, Joe Brodsky, was near the top of the list.

Brodsky died Thursday after a battle with prostate cancer at his Miami Lakes home. He was 71.

"Joe was a big contributor to the success we enjoyed in the 1990s," owner and general manager Jerry Jones said. "As his primary responsibility was the nurturing and development of the NFL's all-timer leading rusher, he was an obvious success in that endeavor.
Joe Brodsky

"But he also touched and influenced the lives and careers of hundreds of success stories in the high school, college and pro football levels.

"We grieve for his family and their loss, and we appreciate his contributions to the history of the Dallas Cowboys."

Brodsky left the University of Miami with Jimmy Johnson and helped the Cowboys win three Super Bowls.

He helped Smith and fullback Daryl Johnston earn Pro Bowl honors.

Brodsky is survived by his wife of 49 years, Joyce, three sons and three grandchildren.

RB Demetrius Summers (South Carolina) will get another look

Cowboys | Summers will get another look
Sun, 28 May 2006 16:57:53 -0700 reports the Dallas Cowboys have not signed undrafted rookie free agent RB Demetrius Summers (South Carolina) but they did like what the saw from him in the rookie minicamp, so much so that they are inviting him back to the veteran minicamp June 2-4 for another tryout.

Dallas Cowboy RB Julius Jones looking to have a big year

Cowboys | Jones looking to have a big year
Mon, 29 May 2006 17:38:30 -0700

Mac Engel, of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, reports Dallas Cowboys RB Julius Jones is looking to have a big year in his third season with in the NFL. Jones said, "I feel like that every year, but especially this being my third year. I've had two decent years, and this year I'm looking to have a really big year. I want to make it through the whole season, and if I do that, that's possible." Jones has been limited to 21 NFL games in two season due to injuries.

Early favorites: Pats-Cowboys matchup awaits in Super Bowl XLI

Peter King's Monday Morning QB
Posted: Monday May 29, 2006 7:49AM;
Updated: Monday May 29, 2006 7:51AM

The envelope, please. The combatants in Super Bowl XLI, on Feb. 4, 2007, at Dolphins Stadium?

The New England Patriots vs. the Dallas Cowboys. You heard it here first.

All kinds of great angles. Belichick-Parcells. Bledsoe-Belichick. Kraft-Parcells. Brady-Bledsoe. Parcells and his son-in-law, Pats VP of player personnel Scott Pioli, on opposite sides. Maybe we'd call it the Dallas Pioli Bowl. There are two weeks between the conference championships and the Super Bowl this season. We'd need two months to cover all the angles. That's how many good stories would be connected to this game.

And we haven't even mentioned Terrell Owens yet. Or Jerry Jones.

So many good stories that Terry Glenn might make the 17th paragraph of the Associated Press' Super Bowl preview. Might.

Now we get to the idiotic part of the story: defending the pick. I remember picking Minnesota-New England for Super Bowl XL at this time last year, and after I made the pick, I was the toast of the Twin Cities. Talk and print media in Minnesota were all excited about the Vikings getting props from a national columnist in the midst of an exciting off-season. You can see where that got them. Sex-boatgate. Daunte Culpepper playing and acting his way out of town. Mike Tice getting whacked. New England at least won the AFC East and a wild card game last year. Minnesota won nothing but scorn. So please, take this not with a grain of salt, but with a pound. The Super Bowl is eight months and a week away, and I very much reserve the right to change my mind.

Over the last few days, I filtered my pick down from eight teams. Seattle, Carolina and Tampa Bay were my other NFC teams. San Diego, Indianapolis and Miami were my other AFC teams. When I woke up Saturday morning, I was thinking Carolina-Indianapolis. Then Carolina-San Diego and Dallas-San Diego. I knocked out San Diego because of Philip Rivers' playoff inexperience. I dropped Miami because I don't trust Culpepper to play 16 games, and I really don't trust his backup, Joey Harrington. I eliminated Seattle because I think they'll lose home field advantage with trips to Denver and Tampa Bay in December. Though I really like Bucs quarterback Chris Simms, I'm not sure I can totally trust him yet.

Carolina and Indy? Very, very tough. I can't find much not to like in either team, and I could see both winning the Super Bowl. But history tells me they're too chalk. Only once in the last decade have the Super Bowl teams been in their conference championship games the previous season. There's usually a surprise. Like Seattle and Pittsburgh last season. Who figured they'd make it? Who figured Baltimore and the Giants six years ago, or the Patriots five years ago?

Maybe Indy's lost too much on defense with David Thornton and Larry Tripplett now in Tennessee and Buffalo, respectively. Maybe Dan Morgan once again can't make it through 16 games and the playoffs in Carolina. Maybe DeAngelo Williams isn't the 1,300-yard guy John Fox thinks he is. Maybe the offensive line continues to torment the Panthers. Maybe Steve Smith and Keyshawn Johnson duel from 10 paces at midseason, tired of screaming for the ball. Maybe it's just an unforgiving late schedule -- at Washington, at Philly, Giants at home, Steelers at home, at Atlanta, at New Orleans to end the season. I don't know. It's a long season and things happen.

I like Dallas because it has answered every question I have for them but two: Is the offensive line good enough and will the secondary have any more meltdowns like the one it had in the last two minutes of the Washington game last year? We'll see. And I like the Cowboys even though they may have to win a road game or two in the playoffs to get to Miami because they just might go 3-3 in the toughest division in football right now.

There's some risk, to be sure, because Owens is a living, breathing incendiary device. But all kinds of silly chemistry things can happen once the year begins. What I like about this team is it addressed almost every one of its major needs entering the off-season. The Cowboys got a kicker with some clutch misses on his resume, Mike Vanderjagt, but he's better than any guy they've had in years. They got the best player in free-agency in Owens, who's also one of the five best offensive forces in football when he's mentally right.

They got a second blocking/catching tight end in the second round in Notre Dame's Anthony Fasano. They got the kind of stonewallish strongside linebacker in the draft -- Bobby Carpenter -- Parcells must have to play the 3-4 the way he wants. That's a really good 3-4 right now, and it could be superb if DeMarcus Ware provides the kind of pass-rush his potential says he can.

I like New England, even though so many leader-type vets are gone. There are still five left -- Brady, Tedy Bruschi, Richard Seymour, Mike Vrabel and Rodney Harrison. That should be more than enough to compensate for the loss of Willie McGinest, but I don't like Adam Vinatieri leaving, especially to the team that has the best chance to torment the Patriots in the conference, Indianapolis. But life will go on.

This team will be better on offense, with a real alternative to Corey Dillon in first-round pick Laurence Maroney. And you watch, the fantasy tight end sleeper this year will be third-rounder Dave Thomas from Texas. The kid's a keeper. Great hands, great route-runner. Brady's going to love him, and he'll find him six or seven times in the end. Write it down.

You know what else I like about Dallas and New England? Their schedules. December looks like it'll be kind to both teams. The Cowboys finish with three of four at home (New Orleans, at Atlanta, Philadelphia, Detroit). Look at New England's final eight games: Jets, at Packers, Bears, Lions, at Dolphins, Texans, at Jags, at Titans. There's a chance they'll be favored in all eight.

So it's Dallas-New England ... unless after touring the camps this summer, I feel like picking two other poor, unsuspecting teams.

Oh, you want a score?

Parcells goes out on top. Dallas 23, New England 21, behind six catches (two for touchdowns) by Owens.

After the game, Parcells hugs his owner, retires, hugs his son-in-law and takes the first plane to Saratoga the next day. He'll go out a winner.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Cowboys 2006 by Sporting News (12-4 and playoff victory)

Cowboys Support Group
May 12, 2006 Print it
By Jean-Jacques Taylor
For Sporting News

A first critical look at the 2006 Cowboys:

The Cowboys have not won a playoff game in nine years, the longest streak in franchise history, but owner Jerry Jones has given coach Bill Parcells enough talent to end that drought in 2006.

Look no further than the addition of volatile receiver Terrell Owens and volatile kicker Mike Vanderjagt, the most accurate kicker in NFL history.
The Cowboys don't fear any team in the NFC and with Parcells, 64, nearing the end of his career, Jones wants the Cowboys loaded up to make a run at a sixth Super Bowl title. After all, that's why he hired Parcells four seasons ago. He wanted Parcells, known as a master builder, to make the Cowboys an elite franchise again.
This year's team will be the most talented in Parcells' tenure in Dallas, especially on offense, which includes Owens, receiver Terry Glenn, tight end Jason Witten and quarterback Drew Bledsoe.

Jones has no idea how long Parcells will coach, so time is of the essence. Jones yearns to be in the winner's circle again and says this is the season Parcells will take him there.

Offense: The Cowboys are getting rid of the fullback and going to a base offense that uses two tight ends, two receivers and one running back. The team wants a power running game that's accented by a passing attack that can be effective on intermediate and deep routes.
It has enough weapons in the passing game to attack no matter which players opponents attempt to take away. The key, though, will be the ability of first-year passing-game coordinator Todd Haley to use creative formations to get the ball to Owens.

Defense: The defense now is a full-fledged 3-4 scheme, getting significantly bigger along the front seven. That should allow it to win more one-on-one battles and be more effective against the run.

The secondary, led by strong safety Roy Williams, can be one of the best in the league. The Cowboys were 10th in total defense last season and added more pieces through the draft and free-agent market.

RB Julius Jones: Jones has had some dynamic performances in his first two seasons with the Cowboys, but because Dallas listened to trade offers for him on draft day, it might be ready to move on because of Jones' injury problems in his first two seasons.

The question isn't his toughness; it's his body's ability to hold up in the NFL. The switch to the two-tight end base offense could make it harder for Jones to stay on the field. It will increase the congestion in the middle, exposing Jones to more hits and reducing his opportunities to run draws and delays.
The positive from Jones' missed time in 2005: It gave rookie Marion Barber an opportunity to prove he is a legitimate NFL back. Barber is a hard-nosed, powerful runner who gained Parcells' respect with his penchant for finishing runs by running over defensive backs. Barber's good hands and blocking skills made him the team's third-down back.

OLBs DeMarcus Ware and Bobby Carpenter: After learning the subtleties of outside linebacker during his rookie season in 2005, Ware will become a star this year. He will "react" instead of "think" and is poised to register double-digit sacks.
Carpenter, a first-round pick this year, is a perfect fit in the 3-4. Ware's ability to rush the passer is one reason Dallas took Carpenter, the only strongside linebacker worthy of a first-round pick. Carpenter fits the Cowboys' scheme because he is big enough to hold his ground at the point of attack. Carpenter is a high-energy player who can put his hand down and rush the passer or drop into coverage.
S Roy Williams: For Dallas to become an elite defense, it must get more from Williams, who has played in three consecutive Pro Bowls. Williams struggles in coverage, so the Cowboys have spent a chunk of the offseason devising ways to get him more involved in the run defense.

The closer he plays to the line of scrimmage, the more effective he becomes. Dallas wants to blitz him more and give him more opportunities to be a dominant player.

With their respective windows for personal success closing, Parcells and Owens find a way to get along. Prediction: 12-4 (first in the NFC East).

Stud: WR Terrell Owens. Worried about T.O. becoming a whining detriment to the Cowboys? Well, just look at how Parcells deftly handled the less talented but equally volatile Keyshawn Johnson.
Sleeper: QB Drew Bledsoe. He has been a favorite whipping boy of fantasy owners in the past, but he won't be this year -- not with Owens to throw to.
Stumbler: WR Terry Glenn. As the Cowboys' second option in the passing game, Glenn's numbers will decline from the '05 season. His history of injuries also makes him a sizable risk.

The Cowboys will end the longest drought without a playoff victory in franchise history. This team has capable performers at the six most important positions -- quarterback, running back, left tackle, receiver, cornerback and defensive end -- and that makes Dallas a contender in the NFC, where no great team exists.
It also has a coach probably in his last season and is attempting to lead his third team to the Super Bowl. Parcells is at his motivational best when he has a player such as Owens and a chip on his shoulder, which he definitely has after missing the playoffs the past two seasons.

Draft Digest Grades the Cowboys

Originally Posted by Cowboyznut
On a scale of 1-10: 8.

Overview: If you are a numbers geek, the Cowboys made all the wrong moves. If you are a football fan, they made all the right ones. They grabbed a real linebacker to play their 3-4, a tight end who can block, a raw, mean defensive end from Grambling, a gritty punt returner and a free safety who's dying to show scouts that tall can work in the open field.

Good Move: Let's start with Bobby Carpenter over Manny Lawson. Carpenter already is a linebacker, so there was no need to pretend to be smarter than the rest by drafting a no-butt, tight-hipped track star who was the delight of the numbers-crunching crowd. Carpenter is a real football player who's destined to play in January, maybe even February if the Cowboys ever get a quarterback.

Questionable Move: No complaints here. The only possible question is the addition of Terrell Owens during free agency, but that's for another story, the story about Bill Parcells and the guy for whom he works. Some lessons are tough to learn, even for rich guys.

Bottom Line: Even down to the bottom with Montavious Stanley and E.J. Whitley, the Cowboys picked up football players. Expect as many as seven of those draft picks to be in the lineup when the team reaches the NFC Championship Game in three years. If they have a quarterback or stud running back by then, they go to the big one.

ESPN NFL Live: Michael Irvin says 13-3 & Super Bowl

Originally posted by Cowboyznut from a sport forum:

for On ESPN NFL Live, Michael Irvin was the guest and going with the TO theme, said the Cowboys were ready for a Super Bowl this year. Predicted 13-3 and the NFC representative in the Super Bowl. Irvin also said that he had talked to TO and his suspension was one of those situations where you don't realize what ya got until it's gone. Irvin said TO would not be a problem for Parcells and would retire a Cowboys. Mike Golic also said the Cowboys had the best offseason of any team in the NFL.[/

Owens's reputation doesn't faze Bledsoe

From: Boston Sunday Globe 5/28/2006

Drew Bledsoe is about to have his first encounter with his newest and loudest teammate, the mercurial Terrell Owens. Although he knows Owens only by reputation, Bledsoe believes he's dealt with him before. Or at least guys like him.

``I haven't met him, but we've talked on the phone a couple of times," the Cowboys quarterback said from his home near Bend, Ore., where he was before an upcoming minicamp in Dallas.

``I'm excited to have him on our team. I've played with a lot of great wide receivers, and a lot of them are kind of high-strung. It comes with the position, I think. If they don't get the ball, they get upset. That's most great wide receivers. You've got to go to them and explain what you saw on the field if you missed them. I'm used to that.

``Against certain teams, you may need to talk with those guys before the game if you think a team is going to give them a tough time and try to take them out of the game. You explain what we're going to be trying and tell them to stay with you because their time will come.

``I really don't have any reservations about playing with T.O. I'm looking forward to it. We all know what T.O. can do in a game."

True, but in San Francisco and Philadelphia, they also know what he can do to a team, which, to be polite, is to divide it. His one-way personality clash with Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb last season destroyed the defending NFC champions' season and nearly did the same to Owens's career after he was suspended and then shipped out to the Cowboys.

Yet Bledsoe believes he'll be no more of a distraction than most high-speed, high-maintenance wideouts he's seen during his 14 years in the NFL.

``The only difference between T.O. and some other guys I can think of is he seems to go on television and talk about how he feels," Bledsoe said with a laugh. ``But Bill [Parcells] keeps it pretty simple. You do your job, you do what you're supposed to, and there's no problem. You don't, and he takes care of it.

``I don't think T.O. will have any problems here. I spoke with friends of mine who played with him in San Francisco and Philadelphia and they all said they loved the guy. Not one of them said they wouldn't want to play with him again. They all said he works hard, practices hard, wants to win, and makes you better. We all know what he's capable of when he gets the ball. I'm looking forward to seeing that."
If Owens plays the way he did in his first season in Philadelphia, Bledsoe and wide receiver Terry Glenn should be the beneficiaries. That year, Owens had 77 catches for 1,200 yards and 14 touchdowns despite missing the final two games and most of the playoffs with a broken leg. He came back in time for the Super Bowl and had nine catches for 122 yards in the Eagles' 24-21 loss to the Patriots. It is that kind of game-breaking brilliance Bledsoe believes could bring him closer to his third Super Bowl.

`We were a few field goals from being 14-2," Bledsoe said of last season. ``We've got a real good defense, the line will be better now that [left tackle] Flozell [Adams] is healthy again. [Jason] Fabini will help us at right tackle along with [Rob] Petitti [who started every game last year as a sixth-round draft choice]. We can run the ball. And T.O. should really help Terry and our passing game.

``They can't double-team Terry every play now, and I don't believe there's a guy in the league who can cover Terry one-on-one. I haven't seen anyone who could do it yet."

Bledsoe said Glenn has matured greatly since leaving New England and will understand when he doesn't get the ball because it's going in Owens's direction. Whether his new teammate does the same will have a lot to say about how things go in Dallas . . . and how many aspirin Bledsoe has to swallow this year.

``Guys say things," Bledsoe said. ``I understand that. Fortunately, I've always been the kind of person who doesn't remember that stuff for very long."

That trait may be as important as any skill he brings to the Cowboys this fall.

T.O. in town for primer on Cowboys' offense

Receiver boning up on Cowboys' scheme before minicamp next week

11:23 PM CDT on Wednesday, May 24, 2006

By TODD ARCHER / The Dallas Morning News
IRVING – With the Cowboys holding their only full-squad minicamp June 2-4, Terrell Owens is in town this week getting accustomed to a new offense, according to multiple sources.
Coach Bill Parcells said during the rookie minicamp that Owens would report to Valley Ranch before the veteran camp to sit down with passing game coordinator and wide receivers coach Todd Haley to learn the Cowboys' scheme.
In San Francisco and Philadelphia Owens ran the West Coast offense, which is geared more toward shorter and quicker routes. The Cowboys' offense is geared more toward the intermediate passing game.

Owens has not been a regular participant in the off-season conditioning program, but he told Drew Bledsoe he would be around to catch passes from the veteran quarterback when needed. Owens has worked out mostly in Los Angeles with a personal trainer.
Parcells has said he is not concerned with Owens' conditioning because it has not been a problem in the past. The Cowboys will leave for training camp in Oxnard, Calif., on July 27 and will hold their first practice July 29.
Briefly: The Cowboys waived rookie tight end Erik Gill, a free agent signed after the draft.

NFC East in '06 - The Best Division Ever?

By Tony Moss, NFL Editor Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -

Two teams come off their first playoff appearance in a number of years, and are seeking to build on those achievements. One team just missed the postseason, and its legendary head coach has added personnel in the interests of reaching the Super Bowl immediately. A fourth team is two years removed from a Super Bowl appearance, and is bound and determined to shake off an injury and turmoil-ravaged 2005 and get back to that plateau. Oh, and all four teams happen to play in the same division. The New York Giants, Washington Redskins, Dallas Cowboys, and Philadelphia Eagles, respectively, fit the descriptions above. Their collective presence in the NFC East could make the division the best and most competitive in league annals, though at least one of the fearsome four will fall short of its postseason goal. Last year, it was the Giants (11-5) and Redskins (10-6) making the playoffs out of the NFC East, with the Cowboys (9-7) just missing that goal following a late-season collapse, and the Eagles (6-10) starting strong but crumbling under the weight of the Terrell Owens saga and the injured status of Donovan McNabb. An objective observer could make the case that all four will be stronger in 2006. The defending division-champion Giants figure to improve offensively as Eli Manning continues to mature, and have added wideout Sinorice Moss via the draft to assist him on that side of the ball. On defense, Tom Coughlin has overhauled his deficient secondary in the offseason, and will blend LaVar Arrington into a group of linebackers that led to the club's downfall after Antonio Pierce got hurt last season. In Washington, where the Redskins were a C-plus performance in Seattle away from a spot in the NFC Championship, the addition of wideouts Antwaan Randle El and Brandon Lloyd gives Mark Brunell and new coordinator Al Saunders two more much-needed offensive playmakers on a unit that struggled at times to complement Gregg Williams' defense. Dallas made the biggest offseason splash in the league by signing Owens to give the offense the No. 1 receiving threat it has lacked, and short-timer Bill Parcells didn't ignore the defense either. Linebackers Akin Ayodele, a free agent acquisition from Jacksonville, and Bobby Carpenter, a first-round draft choice out of Ohio State, will provide the defense the two big, run- stopping linebackers that have always been a major part of Parcells' blueprint for success. Then there are those forgotten last-place Eagles, who will be some pundits' pick for fourth place in the division due to last year's ugly finish and the lack of a No. 1 receiver to replace Owens. Those folks might have forgotten that a healthy McNabb led the Birds to three straight NFC title games with people like Todd Pinkston and James Thrash comically offered up as the team's top wideouts, and might also be overlooking the effect that arguably the league's top 2006 draft will have on the complexion of the franchise. On paper, the NFC East is shaping up to be the league's most formidable division in 2006, and it is reasonable to believe that the group will end up being historically strong. Since the 2002 re-alignment to eight four-team divisions, four teams in one division have never finished with a winning record in the same season. But the achievement was actually in reach for the NFC East last year, when the Giants, Skins, and Cowboys all had winning marks, and the Eagles finished two games under .500. Had Philadelphia won three of the following four contests last season - Atlanta, Seattle, Denver, and/or Arizona - the whole division would have been on the north side of .500. And again, this division looks better from top to bottom, not worse. During the Super Bowl era, there have been nine instances where four teams from the same division finished above .500 in the same year, most recently in the 2000 NFC Central. If they harbor Super Bowl aspirations, the current members of the NFC East might want to wish against that type of group-wide success, however. Of the 36 teams making up those nine strong divisions, none went on to win a Super Bowl, and only one - the 1997 Packers - even got to the big game. On the plus side of history's statistical curve, as it applies to top-notch divisions, is this fact: since the 2002 re-alignment, the best division in terms of winning percentage was the 2002 NFC South, with an overall record of 37-26-1 (.586). That group yielded the Super Bowl Champion Buccaneers, suggesting that strong competition within the division may have helped Tampa Bay when it counted. What ranks as the all-time best division in NFL history? Depends on your criteria. Best overall winning percentage? Most teams in the playoffs? Highest number of clubs going deep in the postseason? Do you rule out divisions that played in the era before the 16-game schedule took effect? Discount the strong divisions before the AFL-NFL merger? Dismiss the four-team groups and their comparatively fewer division rivalries? Whatever the criteria or pecking order, the list below presents a jumping-off point in the great division debate, and provides a glimpse of the group-wide level of achievement that the NFC East could surpass as a unit in 2006. Our Top 10 focuses on the Super Bowl era only, with asterisks denoting playoff teams: 1. 1975 AFC Central *Pittsburgh (12-2); *Cincinnati (11-3); Houston (10-4); Cleveland (3-11) The winning percentage of the four members of the AFC Central was a gaudy .643 (36-20), the best combined mark for a division during the Super Bowl era to date. The quartet went 24-8 (.750) outside the division, and 22-2 (.917) when taking the lowly Browns out of that equation. The Steelers went onto beat the Cowboys in the Super Bowl, the Bengals also made the playoffs, and the hard- luck Oilers, in an era where only one wild card per conference made the field, were among the best teams in NFL history not to reach the postseason. 2. 1984 AFC West *Denver (13-3); *Seattle (12-4); *L.A. Raiders (11-5); Kansas City (8-8); San Diego (7-9) The only thing keeping this division out of the all-time No. 1 spot is the fact that none of the league's three playoff entries got past the AFC Divisional Round. Perhaps they were beaten up from facing each other during the regular season. Since the 16-game schedule was implemented in 1978, no division has had a better winning percentage than the '84 AFC West, which was a combined 51-29 (.638) and a lusty 31-9 (.775) outside of the division. The magic didn't last in the playoffs, however. The division champion Broncos were upset by the Steelers at home in John Elway's second career postseason game, and one week after beating the Raiders in the Wild Card round, the Seahawks got taken down by Dan Marino and the eventual AFC Champion Dolphins. 3. 1997 NFC Central *Green Bay (13-3); *Tampa Bay (10-6); *Detroit (9-7); *Minnesota (9-7); Chicago (4-12) The 2006 NFC East might end up being historically great, but the division will never pull off the same achievement as the '97 NFC Central, one of three divisions in history to send four participants to the playoffs in the same year. The four-division alignment and current two-Wild Card playoff structure makes it impossible for four teams from the same division to reach the postseason. That was not the case in '97, when the Packers won the Central and went onto the Super Bowl before being upset by the Broncos; the Buccaneers and Vikings joined Green Bay in the divisional round; and the Lions finished strong under Bobby Ross to make the playoffs for the final time during the Barry Sanders era. Sanders' playoff career ended with an 18-carry, 65-yard outing against the Bucs in a Wild Card round defeat. 4. 1985 AFC East *Miami (12-4); *N.Y. Jets (11-5); *New England (11-5); Indianapolis (5-11); Buffalo (2-14) The Colts and Bills were horrendous, but the top end of the '85 AFC East was very good and extremely contentious until the very end. The Dolphins, Patriots, and Jets all entered the second-to-last game of the season at 10-4, before Miami beat New England and the Jets lost to the eventual Super Bowl champion Bears to help the Fins emerge with the division title. The trio would continue to display its strength while duking it out in the postseason. The Patriots upset the Jets at the Meadowlands in the Wild Card round, and after going to L.A. and downing the Raiders the following week, stunned Miami, 31-14, on the road in the AFC Championship. New England ran out of gas in the Super Bowl, where it was thrashed by Chicago, arguably the best team in NFL history. 5. 1991 NFC East *Washington (14-2); *Dallas (11-5); Philadelphia (10-6); N.Y. Giants (8-8); Phoenix (4-12) Since the schedule went to 16 games in 1978, no division that produced an eventual Super Bowl Champion has been stronger during the regular campaign than the 1991 NFC East, which went 47-33 (.588) overall and 27-13 (.675) outside of the division. 1991 was the year when the Redskins/Cowboys rivalry became worth watching again, as the first Joe Gibbs era in Washington was in its last throes of greatness, and Dallas had become a playoff team again under Jimmy Johnson. The Eagles were no slouch either, going 7-1 during the second half of the season and only missing the postseason when they lost to Dallas at home in Week 16. Mark Rypien and the Redskins would dispose of Buffalo in the Super Bowl, while the Cowboys would upset the Bears at Soldier Field before falling at Detroit in what remains the Lions' only postseason victory since 1957. 6. 2002 NFC South *Tampa Bay (12-4); *Atlanta (9-6-1); New Orleans (9-7); Carolina (7-9) Arguably the strongest division of the NFL's 32-team era, the '02 NFC South produced three better-than-.500 teams as well as John Fox's generally- competitive first Carolina club, which finished just under .500 and knocked the Saints out of the playoffs by defeating them on the season's final week. The division went a combined 37-26-1 (.586) during the regular season, 25-14-1 (.638) when removing division games from the equation, and yielded credible postseason participants in the Buccaneers and Falcons. Tampa Bay steamrolled through the playoffs en route to its first-ever Super Bowl title, and Atlanta routed Green Bay in the NFC Wild Card round at Lambeau Field, the first-ever postseason loss for the Packers at the facility, before falling to the Eagles in the Divisional round. 7. 1998 AFC East *N.Y. Jets (12-4); *Buffalo (10-6); *Miami (10-6); *New England (9-7); Indianapolis (3-13) Unless the NFL expands the playoff field, the 1998 AFC East will go down as the last division to send four teams to the postseason in the same year. The group had four winning teams and went a combined 49-31 (.613), 29-11 (.725) outside of the division, the second-best marks of the 16-game era behind only the 1984 AFC West (see #2). The Jets were at the height of their powers under Bill Parcells, going to the AFC Championship before losing to the eventual Super Bowl Champion Broncos, the Dolphins fell in the Divisional round to the same Denver team, and the Doug Flutie-led Bills and Pete Carroll-coached Patriots also qualified for the postseason field. The balance of power in the division was about to shift drastically, as a rookie named Peyton Manning would bounce back from a tough year to lead the Colts up the ladder in 99, and in two years' time, one Bill Belichick would take the helm in New England. 8. 1990 NFC East *N.Y. Giants (13-3); *Washington (10-6); *Philadelphia (10-6); Dallas (7-9); Phoenix (5-11) One year before the Redskins stormed through the NFC East en route to a Super Bowl title (see #5), Bill Parcells' final Giants team kept the pace in a division that yielded three playoff entries and nearly produced a fourth. Washington and Philadelphia each managed 10 wins en route to Wild Card spots, with Buddy Ryan's Eagles ending the G-Men's hopes of a perfect season with a 31-13 win in Week 12. Jimmy Johnson's second Cowboys team was 7-7 and controlled its playoff fate entering the season's final two weeks, but lost road games against the Eagles and Falcons to surrender the final postseason slot to the 8-8 Saints and deny the division a fourth playoff berth. The Giants would eventually win their second world title after edging the 49ers and Bills in the NFC Championship and Super Bowl, respectively, and the Redskins would win at Philadelphia in the Wild Card round before losing to San Francisco in the Divisional round. 9. 1994 NFC Central *Minnesota (10-6); *Chicago (9-7); *Detroit (9-7); *Green Bay (9-7); Tampa Bay (6-10) The first of three times that four teams from the same division would make the postseason field in the same season (see #3, #7), the 1994 NFC Central didn't have a standout team, but had four pretty good ones. The Vikings and Bears were at the forefront of the race, with Dave Wannstedt's Chicago club losing three of its final four to open the door for Minnesota to take the division. The Bears would erase that indignity by beating the Vikings in the Metrodome in the Wild Card round, a game that continues to rank as the franchise's most recent postseason victory. Both the Lions and Packers started the year 2-4 before picking up the pace down the stretch, and Green Bay would go on to beat Detroit in the Wild Card round before being edged by Dallas in the Divisional Playoff. 10. 1969 AFL West *Oakland (12-1-1); *Kansas City (11-3); San Diego (8-6); Denver (5-8-1); Cincinnati (4-9-1) A major asterisk is required here, since 1969 was the final season before the AFL-NFL merger and the members of the younger league did not face the NFL clubs, which were perceived to be stronger at that time. Thus, the fact that the 1969 AFL West was a combined 40-27-3 (.593) overall and 20-7-3 (.717) outside of their division during the regular season rings somewhat hollow. However, hints of the division's strength are borne out by what happened in the playoffs. The John Madden-coached Raiders destroyed the Oilers (56-7) in the Divisional round before the Chiefs, who had defeated the defending world champion Jets the week before, upset Oakland (17-7) to advance to Super Bowl IV. Once there, Kansas City humbled NFL champ Minnesota (23-7), again helping to dismiss the notion that the AFL was the inferior of the two leagues.

NFC East: Rob Johnson is reportedly the favorite to be the Giants No. 2 QB

this season.

Johnson, 33, is fully healed from Tommy John surgery underwent after he threw his last NFL pass, in 2003.

May. 27 - 9:44 am et
Source: Newark Star-Ledger

NFC East: Giants are still interested in Jay Fiedler

The Giants are still interested in Jay Fiedler, even despite signing Rob Johnson on Saturday.

If signed, Fiedler will join Eli Manning, Jared Lorenzen, Johnson, and Tim Hasselbeck, and Josh Harris on the roster.

May. 27 - 9:37 am et
Source: New York Daily News

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Bigger & Better? Spears Hoping Added Bulk, Full Strength Will Lead To Success

Nick Eatman - Email Staff Writer
May 24, 2006 5:52 PM

IRVING, Texas - When Cowboys defensive end Marcus Spears was being carted off the practice field last August in Oxnard, Calif., it wasn't a pretty sight.

The team's first-round draft pick, who had just signed his rookie contract and joined the team in training camp less than a week earlier, suffered a knee injury that had even team owner Jerry Jones wondering if he would play again that season.

As it turned out, Spears only suffered an MCL sprain and actually returned in time to play in the preseason finale against Jacksonville.

While Spears eventually played in all 16 games, even replacing Kenyon Coleman in the starting lineup by Week Six, the defensive end said he never regained full strength until after the season.

And Spears said that alone has helped him enjoy a rather productive off-season hitting the weights.

"It's been good," Spears said. "This is maybe my strongest off-season in the weight room. Just getting healthy. The leg is right. I was able to do a lot of things I wasn't able to do in the weight room.

"The knee injury I had in camp - I struggled with that all year. I finally got some time to get off of it, get it rehabbed and get it well."

Now Spears' weight has been an issue since the moment he arrived at Valley Ranch about a year ago. Cowboys head coach Bill Parcells wanted to him to drop about 10 pounds to get in the 290-range, and playfully gave him the nickname "Fats Domino."

And although he accomplished that and played last season at 294, Spears now is a little over 300 again, but said it's not a problem.

"I'm a little bulky with the weights and other things I've done," Spears said. "But it's the good weight this time."

And with extra bulk and two healthy knees, Spears is certainly hoping to improve on a solid rookie season. He started 10 games and finished the year with 35 tackles and 1½ sacks.

But being one of the team's two first-round picks last season, along with DeMarcus Ware (11th overall), Spears (20th) said the pressure to improve exists.

"The expectations are there anyway," Spears said. "We definitely want to be better players. There's a lot of things I can improve on. There's a lot of things DeMarcus can improve on. Everyone has pushed themselves this year and I think it will definitely help both us to have that year in under our belt."

Banged Up

Just before last week's NFL Europe regular season came to an end, the Cowboys figured to have at least one player participating in Sunday's World Bowl.

The Frankfurt Galaxy and Rhein Fire have all three Cowboys' allocated players and were battling out for the final spot to play Amsterdam this week in the World Bowl.

But despite Frankfurt clinching the final spot by beating Berlin, 14-13, and sending Rhein quarterback Drew Henson back to Dallas this week, the Cowboys might not have any representation in the game.

Not only has wide receiver Tom Crowder left the team for Birmingham, Ala., to rehab after undergoing surgery to repair a broken jaw, but now cornerback Lenny Williams missed practice Wednesday because of a sprained ankle.

Williams has started all 10 games for the Galaxy and leads the team with 11 pass deflections. He also serves as Frankfurt's primary kickoff return specialist, with a team-high 16 returns for 406 yards and a 25.4 yard average.

While the Fire did not advance to the World Bowl, Henson finished the season second in the league with an 84.2 quarterback rating. He completed 109-of-203 passes (53.7 percent) with 10 touchdowns to just three interceptions. His numbers went down considerably after suffering the sprained knee early in Game 8.

Before Crowder's injury two weeks ago, the receiver started to turn the corner, catching seven passes for 62 yards and one touchdown.

Gill released

The Cowboys made one roster move Wednesday, releasing tight end Erik Gill. The rookie free agent from Pittsburgh signed with the team following the NFL Draft and participated in the Cowboys' three-day rookie mini-camp two weeks ago.

The Cowboys are rather stocked at tight end, with not only Jason Witten and second-round pick Anthony Fasano expecting to start in the team's new two tight-end set, but also have Ryan Hannam, who signed a four-year deal in free agency in March.

The club returns a pair of third-year vets in Sean Ryan and Brett Peirce, who performed well on special teams last season before suffering a torn ACL midway through November.

The Cowboys also have Tony Curtis, who spent all of last year on the practice squad, and Danny Young, who is primarily a deep snapper.

Cowboys waive TE Gill

Cowboys | Gill waived
Wed, 24 May 2006 13:07:20 -0700

The Dallas Morning News reports the Dallas Cowboys have waived rookie free agent TE Erik Gill.

Bobby Carpenter has proven he can get to the quarterback and defend the pass

Pass rush may get jolt from drafteesCarpenter, SWAC lineman join tight end from Notre Dame in the Class of '06

Chronicle Correspondent

IRVING - Ohio State linebacker Bobby Carpenter, whose father played for Cowboys coach Bill Parcells with the New York Giants, was the first player taken by Dallas with the 18th selection in the NFL draft.

After trading down five spots in the second round, the Cowboys added Notre Dame tight end Anthony Fasano with the 53rd pick. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said he expected both players to earn starting spots next season.

"Fasano knows our terminology," Jones said. "It's what they use at Notre Dame. He did there exactly what we're going to be asking him to do here. That goes for both of these players. Carpenter's already done everything he'll be asked to do.

"So I would be disappointed to use that high first-round pick and not have a starter. My expectations are for him to move in pretty quickly. I would also expect (Fasano) to start."

Carpenter, a 6-2, 254-pounder, was part of a unit that led the nation in rushing defense, and he is expected to help the Cowboys at the strong outside linebacker position opposite DeMarcus Ware. He finished the 2005 season with 49 tackles and eight sacks after fracturing his right fibula in the regular-season finale and missing the Fiesta Bowl.

Another Linebacker U.?

At Ohio State, Carpenter joined A.J. Hawk, who was drafted No. 5 overall by Green Bay, and Anthony Schlegel in forming what many considered the best linebacker unit in college football last season.

Fasano should join Pro Bowler Jason Witten in the Cowboys' two-tight end, two- receiver offense.

Jones said the team was thrilled Fasano was still available after the Cowboys gave up their 49th pick to the New York Jets for the 53rd, 197th (sixth round) and 211th (seventh round) overall picks.

The Cowboys also traded down in the third round, giving up the 80th pick to Jacksonville for the 92nd pick as well as the 125th pick, a fourth-rounder.

The club did not originally have a fourth-round pick.

With the 92nd selection, Dallas took Jason Hatcher, a 6-6, 283-pound defensive end from Grambling.

While Hatcher, a former tight end, is still learning how to plan on the defensive line, his size and athletic ability could help him develop into a real force for the Cowboys. As a junior, he finished with just 33 tackles, but as a senior, he had 71, including 11 sacks.

Despite his lack of experience, the Cowboys are hoping Hatcher will become a disruptive player along the line.

Dad's an ex-Oiler

Carpenter comes with plenty of experience. His father, Rob, played for Parcells when he was the Giants' defensive coordinator in 1981-82 and then head coach until 1985, when Carpenter went to the Los Angeles Rams.

The elder Carpenter — now head coach at Lancaster (Ohio) High — played for the Houston Oilers for four years, gaining 652 yards as a rookie in 1977.

His son said he dreamed of playing for Parcells.

"I tried not to want to go anywhere, because I didn't want to get my heart set on one team. I wouldn't categorize myself as one of 'his' guys yet, because that's got to be earned," Carpenter said. "But my dad said coach Parcells valued hard work, and that's something I bring to the table every day."

Jones said Parcells' link to the elder Carpenter had nothing to do with the decision.

"If we drafted everyone Bill has known or coached, I don't know what we'd have here," Jones said. "But the fact that his dad was in the NFL and his being around that growing up would be a positive. He's got a great background through osmosis with his dad. But we also thought he could be an immediate contributor. He lets us continue down that road to being a 3-4 defense. He's highly competitive."

The ability to make a quick impact was also a deciding factor in taking Fasano, said Jones, who wants to perfect a two-tight-end offense.

"The main reason for that is to let you have the same personnel on the field for first, second and third down," Jones said. "Defenses don't know what you are doing on any down. We felt good about Fasano, being in the same scheme at Notre Dame.

"He has quick feet, a really good ability to seek the soft spots and get open, and he does a good job blocking. At the end of the day, he was such a focal point of what we wanted to get done in this draft."

Good-hands formation

Jones said he expected to see Fasano playing on the same side as receiver Terrell Owens, with Witten near Terry Glenn.

Fasano said he couldn't be any more excited to join the Cowboys, especially after hearing about Parcells many times last year from Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis, a former assistant to Parcells with the New England Patriots.

"This is probably the best situation I could walk into," said Fasano, who will graduate in May with a marketing degree. "Coach Weis always told me what a good fit this would be. Coach Weis has a lot of coach Parcells in him."

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Drew Henson final numbers

By Grizz

Yesterday, Burger King had this item about Drew Henson in his MMQB article.:
Stat of the Week
Drew Henson's middling numbers with the Rhein Fire in NFL Europe this spring:

Comp. Att. Pct. Yards TD Int QB Rating
109 203 .537 1,321 10 3 83.9
I'm sure that completion percentage won't endear him to Bill Parcells when Henson returns to training camp with the Cowboys in late July.

First off, I agree that a 54% completion rate won't make the Tuna happy. Regardless of how many passes were dropped by receivers - and there were quite a few - the QB ends up taking the brunt of the criticism.

Then I started think about how these numbers would project out over an NFL season. Henson started and played nine games in NFLE this year and accumulated the above stats. But remember, he sat out the 2nd qtr of every game while Timmy Chang played. So essentially he played three quarters a game for nine games, meaning he played 27 quarters of football. 27 quarters of football equals around 7 games (27/4 = 6.75).
So the above stats are for roughly 7 games played. So to project his numbers out over a 16 game season, multiply his numbers by 2.3 (16/7 = 2.28).

So here are Henson's adjusted stats for a 16 game schedule:

Comp. Att. Pct. Yards TD Int
251 467 .537 3,038 23 7

Now those are some pretty good numbers.
Of course, this proves absolutely nothing and my math is probably wrong somewhere along the way, but there it is.

NFL News: Raiders are considering parting ways with DT Warren Sapp

The Detroit News reports the Raiders are considering parting ways with DT Warren Sapp.

Sapp, 33, knows Lions head coach Rod Marinelli from their days together in Tampa. With Dan Wilkinson out the door, Detroit could look into signing Sapp if he's released after June 1.

May. 23 - 10:44 am et
Source: Detroit News


Football Teammates Rush into Stores This September
May 19, 2006
Copyright 2006 TMP International, Inc.

Just in time for football season, McFarlane Toys will offer three-packs featuring some of the most popular teams in the National Football League. These three-packs will feature recent Sports Picks mixed with a pair of players making their Sports Picks debut. Some of the figures will be available in jerseys we've never painted them in before. Look for these NFL Sports Picks 3-packs in Toys R Us stores this fall:

QB Ben Roethlisberger
WR Hines Ward 2
LB Joey Porter (Sports Picks debut)

QB Tom Brady 2
RB Corey Dillon
LB Tedy Bruschi

RB Tiki Barber 2
DE Michael Strahan
WR Plaxico Burress (Sports Picks Debut)

QB Drew Bledsoe
RB Julius Jones
SS Roy Williams

The NFL 3-packs are due in Toys R Us stores in early September, the same time our NFL 13 line will be arriving in stores everywhere.