Cowboys Quarterback Change in the Works

While the Bears are sticking with their starting quarterback this week against Dallas, there is a good chance that Drew Henson will get his first career start for the Cowboys.

Cowboys quarterback Vinny Testaverde knew what was coming.

He saw coach Bill Parcells walking toward him and knew Parcells would ask him how he was feeling after Baltimore defensive tackle Kelly Gregg crash-landed on him. Testaverde also knew he would have to tell Parcells that he could not feel his right shoulder.

"I didn't think I was going back in," Testaverde said.

He was not. Not this Sunday. And possibly not again.

While Testaverde slumped on the bench in obvious pain, rookie backup Drew Henson walked onto the field for the first time, charged with handling the final 10 minutes, 35 seconds of Sunday's 30-10 loss to Baltimore.

The question of when Henson might see his first NFL action had been swirling around this team for weeks, growing more acute as the Cowboys' losses mounted. Owner Jerry Jones answered all queries by saying that these things have a way of working themselves out. Which is what might have happened in Baltimore.

"Look out there with Julius Jones and with Henson, and that's the future," Jones said, before quickly qualifying the statement with phrases such as "one future" and "I'm not saying that is the future."

He didn't have to.

Before Sunday, the Cowboys had said they did not want to expose Henson to the cruel realities of the NFL and thus risk losing his confidence. "Losing the player" is how Parcells phrased it.

Except Henson was exposed Sunday. Guard Andre Gurode missed a block, allowing Marques Douglas to sack Henson. He fumbled, and the ball was recovered by Baltimore at the 1-yard line.

But Henson did not crumble. Quite the contrary.

He jogged out on the next possession and led the team 80 yards in 16 plays for the Cowboys' only touchdown. Henson's 1-yard touchdown pass to Jeff Robinson was one of his six completions for 47 yards. He also scrambled for 7 yards and a first down. His performance answered the question of how he might play after spending three seasons playing baseball.

"All of those things are behind me," Henson said. "The big question everyone had -- 'What will he do when he gets in a game?' -- that is over with."

The big question now is if he'll play Thursday against Chicago.

Nobody has said if Testaverde is going to be the starter Thanksgiving Day. That decision will be announced on Tuesday once the Cowboys get a clear evaluation of Testaverde's shoulder.

"We have to make sure this thing is what we want to do," Jones said. "What I don't want to do ... listen, Bill's got a feel here for what he's comfortable with. He certainly is feeling this thing through for not only now, the next game, but what we are going to be doing in the future ... and I'm comfortable with that."

Jones is comfortable because he, like Testaverde, knows what is coming. The day is near when Parcells will talk to Testaverde and tell him Henson is going to be the focal point for the rest of the season.

"That's not my decision," Testaverde said. "I'm going to try to get the shoulder healthy and return to practice, and the rest is out of my hands."

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