The Battleground is Training Camp

According to coach Bill Parcells, the quarterback showdown between Quincy Carter and Chad Hutchinson will be decided by the end of training camp. Both players will enter training camp, which begins July 25 in San Antonio, on equal footing.

They will split snaps in practice and at least through the first two exhibition games -- the second of which is Aug. 15 against blank.

The Cowboys break camp on August 19th and by then, Parcells hopes to name a starter.

"I'm just going with my gut," Parcells said. "Certainly, by the time we leave San Antonio, I would like to get it in place."

Parcells said the importance of this battle and finding the right guy is one reason why he has no interest in clouding up the picture by bringing in a marginal free-agent quarterback. In other words, Brian Griese, Ray Lucas, Akili Smith and company would get in the way rather than help the Cowboys solve a problem.

"My job is to create an environment with these quarterbacks for them to at least show they have the ability to be successful," Parcells said. "When you throw three or four guys in there, you don't have time to sort it out. You don't give guys the right opportunity to be successful. Everything that's out there. I don't see to be a difference maker. We will give these guys a chance to play. Hopefully, somebody will come to the fore front."

The best way for either guy to come to fore front is to get their team in the end zone. Parcells said that attitude might be elementary but it is the bottom line way on how he judges quarterbacks.

"If they get their team in the end zone, I will like them," Parcells said. "If they don't, I won't."

Surprisingly, the quarterback position was not on Parcells' "must have" list for the 2003 season.

As the Cowboys conclude their final mini camp before training camp, Parcells said he has accomplished roughly "80 percent" of the things on his "must have" list. The successes, according to Parcells, were at linebacker, punter, offensive tackle and tight end.

The loss of strong-side linebacker Kevin Hardy to free agency prompted the Cowboys to target linebacker in free agency and the draft. The team signed Al Singleton away from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and drafted LSU standout Bradie James.

The re-signing of Flozell Adams and free-agent addition of Ryan Young answered the team's questions at tackle. Adams was crucial because if he wasn't brought back, Parcells said the Cowboys would have been forced to take a tackle in the draft (Jordan Gross) and pass on cornerback Terence Newman, which would have left the team with a hole in the secondary.

The Cowboys believe they shored up a inferior tight end position by drafting Jason Witten and signing Dan Campbell in free agency to go along with holdovers Tony McGee, James Whalen and Jeff Robinson. Parcells likes the group so much that he says the Cowboys might keep five tight ends on the roster.

"Must haves" the Cowboys were unable to address in free agency and the draft were running back and the defensive line.

"The running back situation hasn't changed much," Parcells said. "That was something I was interested in. Circumstances didn't allow it."

Like quarterback, Parcells didn't see anyone at running back in the draft or free agency worth investing in. The case was basically the same for the defensive line. The Cowboys thought about a defensive tackle in the draft but it would been at the expense of Newman.

Parcells said he will continue to scan the waiver wire and free agent list heading into training camp. Positions of interest include the defensive line and depth at offensive tackle.

But he said he never expected to solve all his problems immediately. "The list of needs is always bigger the first year," Parcells said. "Next year, is shouldn't be as big."

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