Running Game a Priority for Parcells

One thing you can take to the bank about Cowboys coach Bill Parcells is that he would prefer to run the ball 50 times rather than to throw it 50 times as he did in the 35-17 season opening loss to the Vikings.

You can be sure that the Cowboys will mix in quite a few more runs this Sunday against the Browns. However, with the team's problems on defense and remaining questions about the running game, the only thing Cowboys know for sure is that they can throw the ball. Nineteen-year veteran quarterback Vinny Testaverde, 40 head the NFL's top ranked passing offense. And receivers Keyshawn Johnson, Terry Glenn and Antonio Bryant have a chance to be one of the most dangerous threesomes in franchise history.

Parcells predicted as much shortly after the team shockingly released former starter Quincy Carter and elevated Testaverde to the starting role.

Parcells said Testaverde, 40, was as good a passer as any in the league, regardless of age. He proved as much against the Vikings. His 355 yards passing were the most by a Cowboys quarterback in five years. He also became the third Cowboys quarterback to pass for more than 300 yards in his first start.

Johnson did what he told everybody he was going to do since going over in a trade from Tampa Bay for receiver Joey Galloway. He caught the damn ball and gave the Cowboys a much-needed go to receiver for the first time since Michael Irvin retired 2000.

Of Johnson's NFL-high nine receptions for 111 yards, seven went for first downs.

Bryant added a career-high eight passes for 112 yards and Glenn caught five passes for 84 yards, including a spectacular 32-yard touchdown reception.

The scary thing, according to Testaverde, is that the passing game also remains a work in progress. It wasn't perfect against Minnesota. He said too many drives ended without touchdowns and they didn't get up and coming tight end Jason Witten involved as much as they plan to. But he said the passing effort was good enough to instill confidence that they can move the ball whenever they need to.

"We have some explosive guys," Testaverde said. "No matter where you throw the ball, they will be able to go up and get it or go down and get it. I need to keep focusing on getting them the ball and letting them make plays. And now that they see we have potential it raises the confidence level. The next step is to get the ball in the end zone."

The thing Testaverde likes most is that Johnson, Glenn and Bryant are seemingly perfect complements to each other because of their varied talents. The 6-foot-4, 212 pound Johnson will do most his damage underneath and in the middle of the field. Glenn is the stretch the field burner, while Bryant does a little bit of it all but is the best at running after the catch.

"This is the best group I have been a part of," Glenn said. "We all do things a little different. Vinny is the best quarterback for that because he can sit back there and pick teams a part. If something is not there he is going to go to other guy. He will get us all involved."

Said Johnson: "You don't have to tell me what I did. I know what I did. I know what I am going to do. That is what I came here for. As a group, we got the potential to be dangerous. Everybody does what he does. My average is going to be different than Terry and Antonio. I am going to catch some of the shorter stuff. They are going to bomb people when they are not paying attention."

SERIES HISTORY -- 28th meeting. The Browns lead series 17-10. Cleveland is one of only six teams to hold a series advantage over the Cowboys. The others are Baltimore, Houston, Miami, Oakland and San Francisco. The Browns won 11 of the first 12 meetings and they won the last meeting, 19-14 in 1994. Dallas has won five of the last eight meetings. The Cowboys last win came in 1991.

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