Julius Jones: Coming of Age

Parcells not ready to name starting quarterback, but two his youngsters, Julius Jones and Drew Henson, have made quite an impression. <BR>

Dallas head coach Bill Parcells declined Monday to say who would start at quarterback Thursday when the Cowboys host the Chicago Bears at Texas Stadium, saying he needs an updated medical report on Vinny Testaverde before making any decision.

Either way, it was clear that the performances by rookies Julian Jones and Drew Henson have caught the attention of teammates, if not the head coach.

WR Quincy Morgan was asked if there was a big adjustment for the offense with Henson in the huddle instead off Vinny Testaverde.

"No, I don't think so," Morgan said. "Drew was in all week in practice when Vinny was sick. I thought Drew did a great job."

Veteran RB Eddie George was similarly impressed with the performance turned in by Jones, who rushed 30 times for 81 yards in his first game back after missing seven games with a broken shoulder blade.

"I thought Julius did good," said George, who got just three carries in the Cowboys' 30-10 loss to the Baltimore Ravens. "He asked me a few questions during the game, but not a whole lot. To be out almost all year and then get 30 carries … he was good."

Henson entered the game Sunday when Testaverde was injured. Testaverde was to receive further examination by the team's medical staff Monday. Until the results are known, Parcells wouldn't speculate about who will line up under center Thursday against Chicago.

"I don't know much more than you know," Parcells said when asked about the extent of Testaverde's shoulder injury. "It's sore, and today his back's bothering him a little, too. But he's getting around OK. I don't know (who will start). I don't have all the information yet."

In Henson's debut Sunday, he fumbled the first snap of his career when he was hit by Baltimore DE Marques Douglas. The Ravens recovered at the Dallas 1-yard line and subsequently scored. But on his next possession, however, Henson completed each of his six passes, including a 1-yard touchdown toss to reserve TE Jeff Robinson.

He's had similar bounce-backs before: in his first Major League at-bat, Chicago White sox reliever Damaso Marte struck Henson out. Shortly thereafter, he picked up his first hit against Baltimore Orioles lefty Eric DuBose.

Having concluded that he simply preferred playing football over baseball, Henson was waiting for his first chance … and struck out in his first NFL "at-bat" (although Parcells quickly pointed out -- accurately -- that the fumble wasn't Henson's fault, instead blaming a missed blocking assignment). So how relieved is he to have the first "strikeout" and "hit" out of the way?

The biggest relief, he said, affects his life away from Valley Ranch.

"I heard from friends and family" after Sunday's game, Henson said. "That's been the big question since I signed: 'hey -- when are you going to get in?' Like I knew!"

Henson deferred all questions about the chance he'll play Thursday to Parcells, saying that if called upon, he'll be ready.

For Jones, getting the game (and the heavy load of carries) behind him was a relief, but he has an extra interest in being ready for the Bears: his older brother, Thomas, is Chicago's starting running back.

"We're only three years apart," Julius Jones said of his older brother.

"We're very close. He's my best friend."

Jones said that close fraternal relationship, however, doesn't mean he'll be collecting any inside secrets from Thomas.

"I'll ask him a couple of things, see if he'll tell me a couple of things," Jones said with a smile. "But I doubt it."

CowboysHQ Top Stories