Allen Falling out of Favor?

Guard Larry Allen was back at practice Sunday after missing last week with a sprained ankle. However, the former All Pro obviously has some serious making up to do in the eyes of head coach Bill Parcells.

Allen practiced with the second team while Tyson Walter, who started in his place against the Texans, remained with the first team.

For Parcells, it's not just about Allen's injury but his play throughout training camp, where he poor conditioning has impacted his play.

Parcells said Allen must prove to him that he can still play at high level.

--NFL coaches, including Parcells in the past, have used the third preseason game as sort of a dress rehearsal for the season. They would traditionally play most of their starters for at least three quarters and rest them for the preseason finale to avoid injuries.

That won't be the plan in Dallas this year because of the unsettled quarterback situation and too many other uncertain pieces. Parcells needs all four preseason games to get ready for the season.

"If I thought we had a juggernaut of something I might (use the third game as a dress rehearsal)," Parcells said. "But I don't think that right now."

--Defensive tackle Daleroy Stewart wasn't among the fateful seven who got waived on Sunday. However, he remains in coach Bill Parcells doghouse after being penalized three times for being offsides in the third quarter of the Texans game.

"I have zero tolerance on penalties," Parcells said. "Don't blame the coach. Penalties are not the coach's fault. Penalties are the player's fault with the exception of delay of game because we didn't get the play in on time. Every penalty in football can be eliminated with concentration and good judgment."

--There's no question that the injury to Atlanta quarterback Michael Vick bodes well for the Cowboys, who host the Falcons in the season opener Sept. 7.

Vick, considered to be the league's most dangerous player and the key to Falcons attack, will be sidelined at least six weeks after breaking his leg in a preseason game on Saturday.

However, Cowboys coach Bill Parcells takes no pleasure in his good fortune.

"I have always felt the same way about these kind of things," Parcells said. "That really saddens me. He is an exciting young player. It's good for the NFL. I am not happy about anybody else's misfortune. I have never been. It's not good for he game when good players like that get hurt. I would rather play against the best players that that team has all the time."

--The Cowboys' running game, a non-factor in the preseason opener at Arizona, made major gains against the Houston Texans on Friday.

After managing just 49 yards on the ground against the Cardinals, with an average of 2.1 yards per rushing play, it seemed like 2002 again. But the Cowboys got their running game in order Friday. The Cowboys carried 28 times for 141 yards and a touchdown, with an average of 5.0 yards per carry, in the 34-6 victory.

"I knew I needed the offensive line to block for me," running back Troy Hambrick said, "and they did an excellent job for me."

Hambrick will have many eyes on him this season as he attempts to replace Emmitt Smith in the Cowboys backfield. Hambrick played a limited amount Friday, but rushed eight times for 38 yards and a touchdown.

He also registered a key block that gave quarterback Quincy Carter time to find Antonio Bryant on a 30-yard touchdown pass.

"You never know when your block or your run might ignite the team and put them in an offensive situation," Hambrick said.

Just as critical to the Cowboys' running game was the play of its offensive line. In coach Bill Parcells' doghouse after its performance against Arizona, the line provided the key blocks against Houston.

While guard Larry Allen sat out after missing the week of practice with a sore right ankle, newly acquired center/guard Gennaro DiNapoli logged heavy minutes and was productive. Guards Andre Gurode and Tyson Walter also performed well.

While the improved offensive performance received the credit for the Cowboys' first preseason victory, the defense quietly did its job again.

--After holding Arizona to 13 points, including one touchdown, the Cowboys' defense kept Houston out of the end zone, holding the Texans to two field goals.

The Texans had only 10 first downs that didn't come from penalties and their offense gained only 204 yards, an average of 3.5 yards per offensive play compared with the Cowboys' 6.5.

Among the high points on defense were rookie linebacker Bradie James' four solo tackles and fumble recovery; sacks by Dexter Coakley, Ebenezer Ekuban, Daleroy Stewart and a combination sack by Kevin DeRonde and Colston Weatherington; and four solo tackles by rookie free-agent cornerback Jeff Sanchez.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I go by what I see. At some point and time, you got to show me what you can do, including Larry Allen. That is the truth and will always be the truth." -- Cowboys coach Bill Parcells.

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