More Insider News & Notes from Mini-camp

SilverStarDigest writer Steve Lansdale has the absolute latest from Valley Ranch this past weekend. News, notes, and quotes that you can't get anywhere else are contained inside our exclusive look at the Dallas Cowboys second mini-camp of the offseason! Here's another installment of observations from mini-camp:

The offensive line, on the whole, looks to be in tremendous condition. Tackles Flozell Adams (6-7, 357), Torrin Tucker (6-6, 329) and Kurt Vollers (6-7, 317) look almost slender, if it's possible to use that word for guys who block out the sun, and they're extremely agile for their size.

Guard Larry Allen, who battled to keep his weight under control (along with injuries) last year also appears to be in better condition than in years past. More importantly, he seems to be past the litany of ailments that has hobbled him over the last couple of years.

He moved pretty well in the pre-practice sprints, cruised through all offensive line drills and looked smooth coming around the corner on pulling drills. Offensive line coach George Warhop praised his troops as they sped through drills with quickness and agility that belies their size. Put it this way: next to most of the linemen, rookie guard Stephen Peterman and second-year guard Al Johnson look kind of small -- and they measure in at 6-4, 317 and 6-5, 303. The smallest lineman on the roster -- 6-3, 287-pound Genarro DiNapoli -- looks like someone's kid brother swiped an extra uniform and wandered on to the field.

For all the talk about how the Dallas wideouts are great, and how Terence Newman needs so much help at CB, it certainly didn't look that way at mini-camp. Newman, who has added about 10 pounds of muscle to his frame since the end of last season and reportedly is in the best shape of his life -- which in case is really saying something -- looked sensational, staying with burner Terry Glenn and also muscling up to Keyshawn Johnson. Donald Mitchell looked fantastic in the mini-camp, and should be a vital cog in the defense. Pete Hunter, who's penciled in to start opposite Newman, also has looked good, using his frame and long arms to knock down several passes. He's running better than he did last year (he missed part of the 2003 season with injuries), and the extra year of confidence is evident.

If Mitchell and Hunter can team with Newman to solidify the CB spots, that will allow two things: (A) the DEs and OLBs will have more time to get to the QB, and (B) S Roy Williams will have the freedom to get up to the line of scrimmage and rush the passer, where he causes so many matchup problems for opposing blockers.

Those who remember the first half of last season -- when quarterback Quincy Carter was invited to actully throw the ball downfield -- will be amazed when watching the first preseason game. Carter has a pretty strong arm, as does backup Tony Romo. But these two look like a couple of beer-league slow-pitch softball pitchers compared to Vinny Testaverde and Drew Henson, who have freakishly strong throwing arms.

It's traditional for some teams to gather up all the rookies during training camp and shave their heads. But it seems as if the Dallas rookies are trying to beat the veterans to the punch. OT Jacob Rogers, G Stephen Peterman and OLB Scott Shanle showed up for mini-camp with a cleanly-shaven dome.

G Thomas Herrion is probably thought to be a longshot in terms of cracking the Dallas offensive line. But if he doesn't make it, it certainly won't be for a lack of trying. In Sunday's practice, Herrion was asked to block Shaun Smith, a free-agent DT from the University of South Carolina. In a standard blocking drill, the two met with such force that Herrion got his helmet knocked completely off before collecting a mouthful of Smith's foremarn. But rather than bailing out, Herrion stayed with the play and battled, holding off the 320-pound Smith off with his hands … and kept Smith away from the QB.

Parcells said many times in the first couple of days of mini-camp that one of his primary goals is for the defense to generate more of a pass rush. DE Marcellus Wiley will be a great addition, but fellow DEs Kenyon Coleman and Eric Ogbogu look much stronger and quicker. DTs Leonardo Carson and Daleroy Stewart also have drawn raves from Parcells, who said the two interior DLs are ready to have real breakout years.

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