Hope Springs Eternal

SilverStarDigest's Steve Lansdale reports from Valley Ranch. <BR>

HOPING FOR THE BEST
Head coach Bill Parcells said in Monday's press conference that the extent of the hamstring injury suffered by CB Tyrone Williams in Sunday's win over the Detroit Lions is still unknown.

"I don't know," Parcells said. "The doctors said they didn't feel any defect or anything. But I don't know."

Parcells said Williams' availability will be determined later this week.

He also said he doesn't expect safety Darren Woodson to return this week from the back injury that has sidelined him all season.

"I don't think so," Parcells said when asked if Woodson could come back this week. "Saturday's the last day we could return him to active duty. So we'll see."

PLAYING THE ODDS
Parcells said that the decision to place WR Terry Glenn on the injured list was a result of consultation with the team's medical staff, discussions that led him to believe the chance of getting Glenn back -- at an effective level -- was minimal.

"I had a long talk with the doctor Wednesday," Parcells said. "What Terry did was a lesser version of what (TE) Dan Campbell did. Dan separated all the ligaments (in his foot) from the bones. Terry did just one ligament, but it's the main one. The doctor said it would probably be two weeks in a cast. Then they'd take the cast off and look at it, and then it probably would be another two weeks in a cast. Then it would be three or four weeks of rehab-ing it. And the doctor said there's a good chance we wouldn't be getting back the same player (Glenn) was before he hurt it.

"In Terry's case, at the position he plays, it's absolutely vital (that he get all the way back to being the player he was before the injury). I didn't want to take a chance with it."

Parcells said that despite the fact that Glenn's injury will force him to miss more than half of the season, surgery likely won't be required for Glenn to heal fully.

"It's not something that's going to need to be pinned together," Parcells said. "The best we could hope for was that we'd get him back with maybe two games to go (in the regular season). But there was a good chance he wasn't going to be the same player as before. So it's a big loss, because he was playing well.

KEEP HOPE ALIVE
Parcells bristled when asked if the injuries to Glenn, Campbell and in the secondary have him coaching with an eye toward the 2005 season, rather than a push toward the 2004 postseason.

"I always laughed when people say a game is a 'meaningless game'," Parcells said. "It's only meaningless to the non-knowing. But it's not meaningless to the guys playing. There's no such thing. In my profession … how can someone say a game is meaningless? Why look toward next year now? We'll look at next year … next year. There's about 30 percent attrition from one year to the next. Only the ignorant are saying that we're playing for next year.

"We've got to try to maintain hope, until we get to seven or eight losses, and start to get mathematically eliminated. I've talked to the team about that. There are vivid examples of teams that come back to you. You (media) guys have already anointed them -- and now they've lost two or three in a row."

HEAD GAMES
After some of the team's early-season losses, Parcells lamented the team's habit of committing foolish penalties, giving up big plays through busted coverages and other mental mistakes. After Sunday's win over the Lions, Parcells said, the team showed its mental preparation and focus has improved.

"We're doing a lot better on penalties, so I'm pleased about that," Parcells said. "For the fifth time in seven games, I think, we scored on our first possession. That's a good sign that we were prepared to execute. So I was pleased about that, too."

But Parcells was quick to point out that the team's mental preparation is far from perfect.

"We made a couple of mistakes that were important," he said. "We got them offsides, and then we get a motion penalty. We had a timeout, we rehearsed what the snap count was going to sound like, and then one of our guys jumps … You always hear coaches talk about learning from mistakes. Yesterday was a pretty inexpensive lesson. But our margin for error is not a lot.

GREAT EXPECTATIONS
Parcells was asked if the impression that he's harder on TE Jason Witten than on some of Witten's teammates is an accurate one.

"Yeah -- I've always been tougher on on my more gifted players, because my expectations are higher," Parcells said. "I did that with Lawrence (Taylor) -- I was always on his case. (Witten) is a young guy. Remember, we're not talking about a 24- or 25-year-old guy here (Witten is 22). Vinny (Testaverde) mentioned him to me during training camp, saying he'd taken notice of him. They're going to cause some people problems. Vinny went 6-for-6, I think, on our first drive yesterday. And most of that was to Jason.

"A lot of teams run what they call a 'funnel coverage,' where they try to force a guy to change his route, to go to a certain spot. When they do that, we have to try to control the underneath defenders. That's why Ben Coates was Ben Coates, that's why (Mark) Bavaro was Bavaro -- they could handle that."

HOLD ON
Parcells made light of his decision to make QB Drew Henson the holder for kicks and No. 2 quarterback in Sunday's win over Detroit, and said Henson and fellow QB Tony Romo are lucky to be learning behind a veteran like Testaverde.

"I think they're privileged to have someone like Vinny to learn from," he said. "If they don't learn from this guy, they're hopeless.

"I try to watch these guys closely in individual drills, how their mechanics look … I might watch a guy for seven or eight minutes straight, but I do that with the tackles and other guys, too. All along, we've tried to groom both guys to be holders. I think, probably, (K) Billy Cundiff will have profited from having all of these guys guys as holders -- (P Mat) McBriar, Romo, Henson … I think he'll profit, if he stays in the league for any length of time, from having them all hold for him. He can't rely on his little security blanket (of having one holder all the time). Do you think Morten Andersen worries about who his holder is? He probably just says 'put it down there, get it close, I'll kick it.' "

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