Parcells: Testaverde's Impact will be Big

Cowboys coach Bill Parcells said 17-year veteran quarterback Vinny Testaverde, 40, has already improved the team's talent base at quarterback and will have a definite impact on the team in 2004 whether as a starter or a backup and/or mentor.

Testaverde, who spent the past two years backing up Chad Pennington with the Jets, wants to start. And Parcells is giving him the opportunity to compete head to head with incumbent starter Quincy Carter and the rest of the team's stable of quarterbacks.

"I'm going to go by what I see," Parcells said. "The best player will play. They know that. I'm rooting for all of them. I just hope we have a good quarterback playing."

Parcells said Carter should have a leg up because he was the starting quarterback here last year and should be improved because he is in his second year in the system. Still, his play in 2003 -- passing for 3,302 yards and 17 touchdowns with 21 interceptions in leading the Cowboys (10-6) to the playoffs -- only guarantees him a fair chance to compete in 2004. Parcells said Carter knows as much. And if he can't handle it -- as was the case two years ago when he let the addition of Chad Hutchinson affect his play on the field -- then so be it.

"I have to try to do what I think is the best to give my team a chance to win," Parcells said. "It's about competition. It's like why I keep two drivers in my golf bag. If one of them isn't behaving, I want her to know that other one is right there. If she gets paranoid that's OK with me. As long as she behaves. If she's behaving real well then I put the other one in the trunk."

Parcells said Testaverde still has the physical tools to be a starting quarterback in the league, despite starting just 11 games the past two years. At worst he gives the Cowboys a veteran to bring in if Carter falters or is ineffective. Even more crucial, according to Parcells, are the intangibles Testaverde brings to the locker room and the sideline as a mentor to Carter and Henson, who is considered the team's quarterback of the future.

"I know Vinny is not the long term future here," Parcells said. "He knows that. Here's the difference between Vinny and someone else: I don't think Vinny stops progress. I think he is going to be a resource and an asset to the development of those young players and that is what I really hope would happen. I would hope he would contribute here in whatever manner it unfolds and then assist in the development and leave his mark on these young guys like he did with Pennington and a few others along the way."

Carter, who was named the starter as a rookie 2001, lost it to Hutchinson in 2002 before winning it back in a training-camp battle last season, said he's been down this road before and has learned from his past mistakes.

Testaverde has 189 career starts in stints with the Jets, the Buccaneers and the Ravens and ranks seventh in NFL all-time passing yardage with 40,943 yards. He said he has been on both sides of the situation and will respond professionally as he always has.

"The big thing for me was having an opportunity to compete," Testaverde said. "If it had not been for that I wouldn't be here. But I think that's one of the reasons why Bill wanted me here, is because he knows how I'll respond, how I'll react in any kind of competition. He knows I'll help this team help in any situation."

Quote to Note
"I've been through some tough situations since I've been here in Dallas. I couldn't take a snap as a rookie and I wasn't even supposed to be here. So when you look back at what I've been through, you've got to learn from that. But I definitely understand what I'm up against. I've got an older guy I'm going to have to fight off, and another younger guy who's looking to be a good quarterback in this league too. But I'm excited because I'm going to be good in this league too. Competition is always good." -- Cowboys quarterback Quincy Carter on the competition with Vinny Testaverde.

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