Steal of the Draft

With all due respect to Minnesota's Onterrio Smith, a.k.a. Mr. Whizzinator, the Cowboys believe they have the S.O.D. in 2005.

That's steal of the draft, for those not familiar with Smith.

His name in Dallas is fourth-round defensive end Chris Canty, a first-round talent who dropped in the draft because of injury concerns.

Canty had his standout career at Virginia cut short as a senior because of reconstructive knee surgery. He then suffered a career threatening eye injury when he was injured by a flailing bottle in a bar fight.

At best case, it was thought Canty might not even be ready to play in 2005. The Cowboys took him anyway and believe they won this gamble big time after Canty underwent his second operation to repair a detached retina in his left eye.

"He got a good (doctors) report for the removal of scar tissue," owner Jerry Jones said late last week. "The doctor was very positive he could remove the patch. We're going to be very cautious with him. But we expect that he'll be able to stay in shape and get ready to play some football."

Canty will not participate in the minicamp set for May 27-29. And he may not be ready for the start of training camp. The surgery will keep Canty from participating in any strenuous activity for the next 4-8 weeks.

But Jones is confident that Canty will be available shortly after the beginning of camp and, more important, will play in 2005. The latter was in question on draft day, but Jones said it was a gamble they couldn't pass up because of Canty's potential.

"I went through that exercise hard and really stripped away, in my mind, his eye injury," Jones said. "And I saw first-round grades on him. First-round grades from our scouts. It's hard to cut through that on draft day -- the injury factors. But this was unique in that we were able to get in there and get doctors information -- a lot of data -- that I felt the risk/reward ratio was a (worthwhile) opportunity."

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