Henson Back as Backup

Rookie QB replaces Tony Romo as No. 2 QB.

For much of the 2004 season, Dallas head coach has been peppered by questions about whether Vinny Testaverde should be replaced by either Drew Henson or Tony Romo as the team's starting quarterback. Parcells earned the right to say "I told you so" (although he didn't take advantage of it) when Testaverde hit rookie WR Patrick Crayton with a last-minute, game-winning touchdown in Sunday's win over the Washington Redskins.

But the quarterback shuffle continues. After two weeks as the team's third quarterback, Parcells announced Wednesday that Henson has been bumped up to the No. 2 position for the season finale against the New York Giants.

Parcells was asked if owner Jerry Jones agreed with the decision to keep Testaverde as the starting quarterback.

"He and I talk every week," Parcells said of Jones' input on the situation. "He doesn't have to be in agreement."

Parcells has said many times this season that Testaverde continues to play because he gives the team its best chance to win. He also has said many times that he doesn't want to put Henson or Romo into a game at a time when he's not likely to succeed.

"I'm trying to … I don't know what the right word is … 'nurture' them through this," Parcells said. "I don't know if that's the right word for football."

Testaverde said that at times this season, he has played the role of counselor for his young backups as they deal with their changing roles on the team's quarterback depth chart.

"It's not so much that I tell them to trust (Parcells)," Testaverde said. "I tell them to go through this practice, this week, this season -- whatever -- and don't let it be a waste. Try to work on something, to make themselves a better player when they do get in.

"The best example I can think of is (New York Jets quarterback) Chad Pennington. He sat for almost three years. He was able to watch a veteran player, and not just the mistakes. Now he's one of the best young quarterbacks in the league. If you just throw someone in, they sometimes just aren't ready."

Henson said he was pleased to be bumped up from the No. 3 spot, in which he ran the scout team offense.

"Yeah," Henson said when asked if it's nice to be back in the No. 2 quarterback spot, "except you're still not on the field on Sunday. It's probably going to be like (Parcells) said -- more reps in practice."

Parcells said that ironically, Henson had his best week of practice last week when running the scout team as Romo was prepared to play (which he didn't) against the Redskins.

"It was a good week," Henson agreed. "I don't know exactly why it was a good week. I was throwing a lot, and threw the ball well."

Henson said that his playing time -- or lack thereof -- wasn't a disappointment, because he said he entered the season without expectations.

"Coming into the season, I didn't exactly know how it would go," Henson said. "In my mind, you come in and prepare to play. Everyone has to.

For Testaverde, this season's expectations revolved more about team results.

"Obviously, our expectations were much higher than the results we've gotten," Testaverde said. "Because of some unfortunate events, things haven't gone exactly as we'd like."

However, Testaverde said the season was not a complete waste, especially for the offense, because of the development of players like TE Jason Witten, WRs Terence Copper and Patrick Crayton and C Al Johnson.

"Al Johnson has had as good a year as anyone," Testaverde said, "and he's really gone unnoticed."

Not the right time to decide
Testaverde quickly deflected questions about whether he plans to return to the Cowboys for the 2005 season.

"I haven't thought about it much," Testaverde said. "When the season is over, and that's Sunday for us, I'll start to think about whether I want to play (in 2005) -- if I'm asked to play.

"We've got a game to play Sunday. This is not the time to think about that stuff."

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