Dallas head coach followed the first day of the team's rookie mini-camp by addressing a number of subjects in his first press conference of the new preseason.
Parcells admitted that this offseason, in which the Cowboys went on a
free-agent shopping spree and re-tooled the defense through a
defense-heavy draft widely regarded as one of the best in the NFL,
helped magnify the anticipation he feels every as the preseason gets
"I'm never totally satisfied," he said. "But this offseason, we were
very aggressive … with Drew (Bledsoe) kind of falling our way, with
Aaron (Glenn) kind of falling our way … aside from the (financial) cost
of getting them, it was sort of like getting something for nothing."
Parcells said that the team's intentions when it comes to roster
improvement extend well beyond the much-ballyhooed players taken in
last weekend's draft.
"We've got a lot of (deep) snappers in here, we've got another kicker
in here," he said, "and we've spent a lot of time researching those
guys. The scouting department, I couldn't ask for anything more from
Parcells said that while the coaching staff is optimistic about the influx of new talent acquired in the draft and via free agency, he does not yet view the roster as being complete.
"We've still got some uncertainty, with (Chris) Canty, let's say … we don't know when he'll be 100 percent, how that will work out," Parcells
said of the defensive end Dallas drafted from the University of Virginia, who is not practicing yet with his new teammates because of a postseason eye injury. "We don't have a timetable with him. But we should have better depth on the defensive line, more guys who can play there. Hopefully, (Canty) will be ready for camp and ready to go."
Canty did not take part in the first practice of mini-camp, instead riding a stationary bicycle and going through a series of conditioning
and strengthening exercises with the team's medical and strength staff.
He did admit, however, that expects contributions from more newcomers than just the high-profile defensive players drafted in the early rounds.
"Getting Marion Barber was a very important pick," Parcells said. "And
(free agent running back) Tyson Thompson -- some of you know him from
Irving (High School) -- he might have a chance, too. He's got some
Canty isn't the only player Parcells said he hopes will benefit from progress made in the weight room and the trainer's room.
"(Offensive tackle) Flozell Adams has lost weight -- I mean a lot of weight -- and (guard) Larry (Allen) is running like he's never run
before, and (tight end) Dan Campbell is back, we hope he's ready to go, too.
"You're never sure until you see how the new parts will mesh. But you do get a little sense from the offseason program about who's into it."
Parcells said that even the team's quarterbacks have undergone more rigorous offseason workout regimens.
"Drew (Henson), (Tony) Romo … they've gotten in a lot of work," he said. "We're going on 5,000 throws this spring with Drew -- that's a
lot of throws. We've had to back off a little there."
AREAS OF FOCUS?
Parcells was asked if his attention at Friday's workout centered on top draft choices DeMarcus Ware and Marcus Spears.
"Just the opposite, really," he said. "I tried to look at the (Jay) Ratlifffs -- the later-round guys and the free agents … the guys I
don't know quite as much about. I got to see Marcus Spears in pads at the Senior Bowl. I know what he can do. I know he has to lose weight --
I know that. I also know Rob Petitti, now he has a chance to play."
DON'T GET CAUGHT UP IN THE NUMBERS
One of the major topics of offseason discussion has been the Cowboys' anticipated shift from the 4-3 defense to the 3-4, and how defensive
coordinator Mike Zimmer will adjust to teaching the new system.
"We're still teaching the concepts, really," Parcells said. "We'll sort through more of that going into the (veterans') mini-camp (in May). But I really think it's also something that you (media) make too much about, because nobody in the league plays just one front -- nobody.
They just don't. We're still some carryover from last year," keeping some elements of the 4-3 with the team's new 3-4 look.
ALWAYS BE A-WARE
For someone drafted with the No. 11 pick, there certainly is a lot of conflicting information circulating about rookie DeMarcus Ware. Even
after the draft, he's been listed everywhere from 250 pounds to over 270 (the Cowboys are listing him at 251), and depending on what you
read, he's been called an outside linebacker and he's been called a defensive end. So what is he?
"I want DeMarcus Ware as an interchangeable player," Parcells said. "He has the ability to gravitate forward (to the line of scrimmage as a
defensive end) or backward as a linebacker.
"What I don't want is for him to fight an offensive tacckle for 70 plays a game -- that's not healthy. I think I learned that from Willie
NOTHING IF NOT LOYAL
This offseason has brought a bounty of new players to the Cowboys. In addition to the rookies, the Dallas coach has shown a tendency to lean on players with whom has has experience in previous organizations. That was seen last year, with Vinny Testaverde, Richie Anderson (both of whom are now gone), Keyshawn Johnson, etc. This year, he's added two more former players: Bledsoe and Glenn.
"I know what this guy is going to do," Parcells said. "You're going to like this guy. I don't have to worry about his preparation, or the way
he goes about his job. He's a pro."
Another publicly-stated goal has been to find a free safety, allowing Roy Williams to move back to the strong safety spot where he was well
on his way to establishing himself as one of the best players at his position in the NFL, until Darren Woodson's back injury (and subsequent
retirement) forced the coaches to leave him there for the rest of the season.
"We're going to sprinkle that around here," Parcells said of playing time at free safety. "I don't discount Keith Davis -- he showed me last
year a lot. Lynn Scott, I think I know what he's made of, and you need players like that on a team. We've got Woodrow (Dantzler) over in
Europe, trying to get it together (at safety), and then we drafted the new kid (Justin Beriault)."
Parcells also used the safety discussion to squelch the rumors that had been circulating this week about Pete Hunter, who reportedly was going to be traded to the New York Jets (supposedly for cornerback Ray Mickens) or moved to safety, depending on the source of the rumor.
"I don't know where that came from," Parcells said. "I'm not moving Pete Hunter to safety, and I'm not going to trade him. I can see where
(a proposed Hunter-for-Mickens trade) might make sense, but that's basically made up."
NEWS FROM THE FRONT LINE
Parcells announced Friday that Andre Gurode will be moved this year from guard to center. Entering his fifth season out of Colorado, Gurode was viewed by many observers as a draft-deal steal for the Cowboys, saying that Dallas had snagged a player with first-round talent in the second round. But he was unable to lock down the starting center job and was moved to guard. Now unlikely to play much at guard after the free-agent arrival of Marco Rivera (as Parcells said, there's a lot less job opportunity at that position now), Gurode moves back to center …
presumably as Al Johnson's backup.
Parcells also said that five players will get a crack at the right tackle job: last year's starter Torrin Tucker, Kurt Vollers, Jacob
Rogers, Ben Noll and Petitti … "and some other guys out here I don't know about yet."
DON'T BELIEVE EVERYTHING YOU READ
Parcells was asked Friday about quotes attributed to longtime NFL announcer (and Parcells friend) Pat Summerall, who has been quoted as saying that Parcells gave serious thought to quitting after last year's
disappointing 6-10 record.
"That's not true," he said. "You get a little down and out every once in a while, but no, I didn't think about quitting."
Parcells in Midseason Form
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