BEST FOOT FORWARD
Cowboys head coach Bill Parcells said Thursday that defensive end Greg Ellis was treated after Wednesday's practice for "a foot problem." His status is not yet determined.
Parcells said that while most of the attention around the resurgence of the Detroit Lions -- who hadn't won a road game in three years and now have three road wins this season alone -- has focused on superb offensive rookies Roy Williams and Kevin Jones, one of the main reasons for the Lions' improvement is on the other side of the ball.
"One of Detroit's strengths is that they're becoming more patient defensively," he said. "They really make you execute plays to beat them, as opposed to teams that attack and try to disrupt you. Their defense worked well last week (in Detroit's win over the New York Giants). Now, in Green Bay the week before, they got hurt a little. But they're much improved from last year. (New defensive coordinator) Dick Jauron has made a big difference, as he always does.
"They have a couple of players who have really stepped up -- (defensive end Kalimba) Edwards and (defensive tackle Shaun) Rogers. They're really good players."
STRENGTH IN NUMBERS
Parcells also said that the improvement of the Detroit offense is not solely because of the addition of their first-round rookies, Williams and Jones.
"Their cast is better because there's so many more of them," Parcells said. "They have more receivers. (Wide receiver Charles) Rodgers is hurt, obviously. But last year, they didn't have Roy Williams, they didn't have Tai Streets. Now they have more depth at running back. Overall, they're more skillful."
GETTING GOOD RETURNS
Parcells was asked what matchup with the Lions concerns him the most. While he didn't single out one particular player, the first name he brought up was not that of quarterback Joey Harrington, Williams, Jones or any other player at one of the skill positions.
"I'm not trying to get anyone off-guard here," Parcells said. "But one guy who really worries me is (wide receiver/kick returner Eddie) Drummond. He's a real 'field position getter.' He's a different kind of returner from (Pittsburgh's Antwaan Randel El). He's not as jittery, not as super-elusive. But overall, he's probably a better returner."
Parcells admitted that kickoff return coverage has been one of the better aspects of the Cowboys' performance in their early games. But because of the speed of most return men in the NFL, the potential a mistake to be magnified is significant.
"I guess that has been one of our strengths this year," Parcells said. "But in covering kicks, you're always one play away from a bad play."
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