Valley Ranch Insider

News and notes on undrafted rookie free agent Charles Alston, tight end James Whalen, long snapper Jeff Robinson, offensive coordinator Maurice Carthon, and a new assistant coach possibly in former New York Giant Dave Meggett!

--Defensive end Charles Alston received the highest signing bonus of any undrafted rookie free agent in NFL. The Bowie State star, who played football and basketball in college, got $25,000 in up-front money. The Cowboys handed out a total of $109,000 in bonus money to their 12 rookie free agents.

"I'm hoping to come here and make a name for myself," Alston said. "It's a big jump from a small school to the NFL. Other players have done it. I think if I work hard. I can do it too. I'm excited about playing for the Cowboys."

--The Cowboys hopes of taking Dallas Desperados (Arena Football) receiver Will Pettis to training camp took a hit this past week. Pettis, who was placed on procedural waivers after being signed by the Cowboys June 10, was claimed by the Saints and assigned to them 10 days later.

Because of a newly-instated NFL rule that requires teams owning AFL franchises (Cowboys, Lions and Broncos) wishing to sign players from their AFL franchise to place the player on procedural recall waivers, the Cowboys' only chance of getting Pettis was for him to go unclaimed through the waiver system for 10 days.

--While coach Bill Parcells says it hard to evaluate players in minicamp, he admits being intrigued by tight end James Whalen.

The third-year player has great hands but is a tweener because he is too small to play handle the run-blocking duties of a traditional tight end. Parcells likes the way he plays special teams and is trying to find a place for him.

"He's a hybrid," Parcells said. "It means detached from the main body. That's where he focuses. He's on the perimeter of the offense, not necessarily out wide but he's not in the backfield and he's not a lineman and he's really not an in-line tight end. When you have a player like that, he's a good special teams player, too, so you're trying to say, `What exactly am I going to do with this guy?' He reminds me of some guys I've been successful with before. And that's always a good thing for me because now I have that backlog of players that I've coached, and he has characteristics like them."

--The Cowboys gave tight end/deep snapper Jeff Robinson a four-year/$4.8 million contract last season because of his ability to do multiple things.

However, that was before he missed the entire season with a knee injury.

This season, however, Robinson will primarily be a highly-paid deep snapper. He will make $1.1 million in 2003. Robinson is considered one of the league's best snappers and that's what Parcells wants him to concentrate on. It means that snapper Jeff Grau, who replaced Robinson last season, will likely be released before training camp.

--Pretty soon offensive coordinator Maurice Carthon won't be the only former Parcells player working as a coach on his staff.

Former Giants running back Dave Meggett is already slated to be a summer intern in training camp, working primarily with punt returners.

Now Adrian White, a former safety for Parcells with the Giants from 1987-1991, is expected to help with the secondary at training camp. White is currently coaching for the NFL Europe's Rhein Fire.

"The game nowadays has changed a little bit now. I like to have a little difference in style (among the tight ends), and coincidentally we have that here. You like to have a tight end that could do certain things and another one that you could feature doing something else, and I think with the combination of McGee, Whalen, Campbell and Witten, that we're going to have some versatility at the position. I've never kept four tight ends on my team before. But I'm willing to change things." -- Bill Parcells on the possibility of keeping four tight ends on the roster, including James Whalen, Dan Campbell, Tony McGee and Jason Witten.

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