Protecting Bledsoe Critical

One of the Cowboys' top offseason acquisitions must be protected in 2005.

The Cowboys made a host of changes in the offseason, but on the first day of minicamp, all eyes were quarterback Drew Bledsoe.

It was the first time for him directing the team as a full unit. He said he wanted to make a good first impression and gain the confidence of his teammates.

"I am excited and looking forward to it," Bledsoe said. "I'm just gonna go out here and play ball and do what I've always done, which is read it and throw it accurately and be a confident leader for these guys."

Count receiver Keyshawn Johnson as already impressed.

"He is what I thought," Johnson said. "He looks like a quarterback. He is every bit what I thought. He has a strong arm. He has pocket awareness. He is definitely going to help."

The key for the Cowboys is keeping Bledsoe upright with good protections in front of him. And for him to limit mistakes and learn to get rid of the ball. He was sacked 140 times the last three years in Buffalo. Not all were due to poor blocking.

"I think Drew has a lot of courage," Cowboys coach Parcells said. "He will hold on to the ball. The things I mention to him are to try to get rid of it on time if we can and that sacks, fumbles and interceptions are bad plays. Throwing the ball away is a good play. He knows that from before. I just try to reiterate it."

Still Parcells said protection is a key, just like it was with Vinny Testaverde last season.

"I think if we're able to block for Drew and we have some balance in our attack, I think Drew will be an efficient quarterback for us," Parcells said. "If we're not able to block for him and we can't run the ball then I think he'll be like the rest of them that are trying to play from behind."

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