Rookie Mini-camp Insider

Insider news and notes on the Cowboys' first day of mini-camp.

• More than a few eyebrows were raised when head coach Bill Parcells compared his top draft choice, DeMarcus Ware, to one of his former players: Hall of Fame linebacker Lawrence Taylor, considered by many to be the greatest defensive player in the history of football. But if Friday's workout was any indication, it's clear that Parcells thinks a lot of Ware … in several different roles. The players took the field in helmets, jerseys, shorts and no pads, so there was no hitting, and drills were not run at full speed (except for wide receivers and defensive backs on pass routes). But in the skeleton drills run at the team's Valley Ranch practice field, Ware lined up at defensive end, where he played in college and outside linebacker … and at times in the slot, dropping into coverage against the offense's third receiver. The guy can run, but if he can run with NFL wideouts -- even those without top-end speed -- he's going to cause a lot of sleepless nights for opposing offensive coordinators.

• Is the body even cool yet? Free agent running back Tyson Thompson took to the practice field for the first time Friday, sporting jersey No. 28. Legendary safety Darren Woodson has been retired only a few months, and already his number is being worn by an unproven free agent hopeful? No offense to Thompson, but it just doesn't look right.

• Defensive end Marcus Spears, wearing a black elastic sleeve on his right knee, went through position drills with a hint of a limp. But when the defensive linemen paired off with offensive linemen for pass rush/blocking drills, Spears -- who Parcells said needs to lose weight before training camp -- showed good quickness, repeatedly beating his man to the coach impersonating the quarterback.

• Two quarterbacks are in camp, not as draft choices or even free agent signees. The two -- Dustin Long of Sam Houston State (after a stint at Texas A&M) and Derek Maupin of West Texas A&M -- are among six players the Cowboys have invited for "weekend workouts," making them the longest of longshots. Long showed a stronger passing arm, while Maupin appeared a little quicker afoot.

• Colleges often are accused of "inflating" athletes' measurements in their programs and media guides (Charles Barkley was listed at 6-7 when he played at Auburn, but by the end of his NBA career, he was what .... 6-4? He's not old enough to shrink that much.) Maybe the pros are guilty of similar number manipulation. The Cowboys are listing sixth-round draft choice Rob Petitti (offensive lineman from Pittsburgh) at 6-foot-6, 340. Maybe so, but Marcus Spears is listed at 307 pounds, and he looks like a scrawny kid next to Petitti.

• The Washington Redskins have drawn some attention around the nation's capital for signing tight end prospect Chevon Troutman -- a power forward from Pittsburgh who hasn't played football since high school. To the casual observer, it might appear that the Cowboys tried the same strategy. Center Matthew Tarullo looks like a power forward, (at 6-5, he's much taller than most interior linemen). He looks almost lean for an offensive lineman … which, admittedly, sounds weird for a guy who weighs 314 pounds. And to keep the basketball influence intact, he showed up sporting his Syracuse-orange cleats. If he had hair to braid, he'd .... still bear no resemblance to Carmelo Anthony.

• The rookies all showed energy and hustle, jumping to meet every request from the coaches. One rookie in particular seems to have a goal in mind for all his drills: running back Marion Barber ran almost to the end zone nearly every time he carried the ball, even when he had no defenders within 30 yards of him.

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