Thursday News and Notes

Rookie Julius Jones certainly looks the part of an explosive running back. His impressive preseason stats -- 30 rushes for 143 yards -- certainly justify the Cowboys decision to pass on other more touted runners (Stephen Jackson and Kevin Jones) to choose him in the second round of the 2004 draft.

But Monday's night's effort in which he tried to come out the game with an injury is proof that he has a ways to go before Cowboys coach Bill Parcells will trust him to carry a full load at running back.

"On no," responded Parcells when asked if Jones was injured. "He's got to learn. You don't tap your helmet with me. But he's trying hard."

That being said, Parcells likes they way Jones survived brutal training camp brow beatings from himself and running backs coach Maurice Carthon. And he has definite plans to use the speedy Jones, who might be the team's most dangerous weapon, in tandem with bruising starter Eddie George.

"He's a good kid, he works hard," Parcells said. "What he's gone through in this training camp with Mo and myself, it's not easy. So I give credit to him, he's hanging in there, he's trying to improve. He's not a complete product here. He's not complete. But you see him. You get it to him in the open field and stuff, he can do something, so that's what we're trying to do."

* Parcells is not happy about having to play two games in four days. The Cowboys, who beat the Titans 20-17 on Monday, meet the Chiefs in their preseason finale on Thursday.

He says the quick turnaround will make it a tough week, as he will focus more on individuals rather than doing strategic game planning for the Chiefs.

However, he doesn't plan on giving any of his frontline players the day off.

Although quarterback Vinny Testaverde looked very sharp against the Titans, completing 17 of 24 passes for 240 yards with on touchdown and one interception, Parcells said he still needs work.

How much Testaverde, receiver Keyshawn Johnson and company will play has yet to be determined but they will get some work against the Chiefs.

* Former Baylor star Matt Bryant's chances of unseating incumbent kicker Billy Cundiff have been diminished by a hamstring injury that kept him out of Monday's game against the Titans. Bryant had been pushing the struggling Cundiff for the job and was considered by many within the organization a good bet to be the team's opening day kicker. The injury has changed all of that and if he isn't ready to play on Thursday's preseason finale against the Chiefs, Cundiff will win by default.

"It does affect things," Parcells. There isn't any doubt about it. He knows that. It is not great timing for him. He has done a good job in our camp. But he is still here. We will see how he does this week. Maybe he will be ready. If he doesn't kick Thursday, then I don't think I can afford do that (keep him.) I want to give him a chance to do it if he can do it."

* The NFL's emphasis on enforcing illegal contact in secondary is beginning to draw Parcells' attention. The Cowboys have drawn illegal contact and/or interference flags in all three preseason games.

Parcells' concern about the way the NFL is calling the penalties prompted him to have conversations with members of the NFL competition committee and the director of officials.

"I just wanted to get a better understanding," Parcells said. "We all want this to be satisfactory. What we are all trying to get through now is, 'OK, what is the level this is going to be. Why did we pass this rule?' The rule we passed is, one, they don't want you mugging the receivers down the field, and they don't want those timed collisions. OK? But that was the purpose as the way it was explained to me again in the last 48 hours by two members of the committee. It's just a question of getting everybody, coaches, players, officials, everybody on the same level. This is one of the reasons we have preseason. And in good conscious they will look at these things."

By the Numbers

22 -- Cowboys defense finished 21st in turnover ratio last year despite being ranked No. 1 overall. Improvement is necessary. The Cowboys were 25th in interceptions and 21st in sacks a year ago.

132 -- The combined ages of quarterback Vinny Testaverde, running back Eddie George and receivers Keyshawn Johnson and Terry Glenn. 2 -- Number of father son tandems to play for the Cowboys now that linebacker Kalen Thornton has made the team. His father is Bruce Thornton, who played defensive end from 1979-1981. They join guard Jake (1964-65) and quarterback Craig Kupp (1991).

Quote to Note: "It's an opportunity for us to finish what we started. We didn't get a chance to do it in New York." -- Receiver Keyshawn Johnson on the number of former Jets rejoining Bill Parcells with the Cowboys.

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