Campbell's Loss Hurts

Two weeks ago former Cowboys coach Dave Campo said the biggest difference between his 5-11 team in 2002 and Bill Parcells' 10-6 team in 2003 were injuries.

He had them. Parcells didn't.

Well, if Parcells is to duplicate his magic in 2004, overcoming injuries will be part of the mission.

Already temporarily robbed of three key contributors because of injuries, the Cowboys will now play without two starters for the rest of the season.

Cornerback Pete Hunter and tight end Dan Campbell were placed on injured reserve Wednesday because of injuries suffered in Monday's 21-18 victory against the Redskins.

Hunter tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. Campbell was sidelined by a right foot sprain. Both players are set to have season-ending surgery next Tuesday.

Rookie seventh-round pick Jacques Reeves will replace Hunter at right cornerback opposite Terence Newman. And tight end/H-back Jason Witten will take over many of Campbell's blocking tight end duties.

The Cowboys, who have a bye until Oct. 9, are scanning the free agent market for veteran help.

"Obviously we are looking for people," Parcells said. "I am actually looking for guys that can help (immediately). That's the way it is for everyone. You just have to do the best that you can."

Hunter's injury is another setback for a maligned Cowboys secondary that is already playing without strong safety Darren Woodson -- who was placed on the physically unable to perform list before the season because of a back injury. Woodson is out at least the first five games along with guard/center Gennaro DiNapoli, who is also on PUP with a foot sprain.

Other Cowboys injuries include rookie running back Julius Jones, who is out for eight weeks with a fractured shoulder and rookie guard Stephen Peterman was placed on injured reserve before the season with a torn ACL. As second and third round picks respectively, both Jones and Peterman were expected to play key reserve roles for this season.

The loss of Campbell will impact the Cowboys on the field and in the locker room. The six year veteran from Texas A&M is a respected team leader as well as one of the Cowboys hardest workers.

"It's a very big blow for us," Parcells said. "He's one of our top players. He's great in the locker room he's a team leader and he's one of the tougher guys we got. He allows us to be versatile on offense. He does a lot of the dirty work. He's a player that's very difficult to replace."

Campbell's loss is also another blow to the Cowboys' already struggling running game. It will limit the Cowboys' use of two-tight end sets, while forcing Witten to be more of the point man on the strong side. Although the Cowboys interchanged Campbell and Witten a lot, there's no question Witten was more of the pass catcher while Campbell handled the bulk of the grunt work. With 12 catches for 121 yards, Witten is tied with receiver Keyshawn Johnson for third on the team in receptions.

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