Emmitt Smith Aiming High

Emmitt Smith stood in the bask of the spotlight in the auditorium of the Arizona Cardinals training facility at his introductory news conference Thursday, beaming, resplendid in black suit, crisp white shirt and red tie.

He looked anything but a broken down old war horse, which many around the NFL believe the league's career rushing leader has become.

While it is true one reason the Cardinals signed him is for his public relations value and ability to be a leader simply by walking into a locker room full of wide-eyed young players, Smith is highly motivated to show Jerry Jones and the Dallas Cowboys, and anyone else in doubt that he remains an effective football player.

Smith said his goal is to rush for between 1,200 and 1,300 yards as the starter for his new team, which signed him to a two-year contract believed to be worth $7.5 million. Last season, Smith came within 25 yards of extending his NFL-record streak to 12 straight 1,000-yard rushing seasons.

That was behind a bad Cowboys' line. With the Cardinals, Smith will be running behind Leonard Davis, the second pick overall in the 2001 draft, massive Anthony Clement and veteran Pete Kendall. The Cardinals signed 265-pound fullback James Hodgins from the St. Louis Rams, who was Marshall Faulk's lead blocker for most of two seasons.

The Cardinals also appear well equipped to run the ball and give Smith the chance to make his point. The team hasn't had a 1,000-yard rusher since Adrian Murrell barely crossed the barrier in 1998, the last time the Cardinals reached the playoffs -- and the only time they've reached them since they moved to Arizona in 1988.

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