It's Just One Game

Preseason games mean little.

Preseason openers mean even less.

Still, Cowboys head coach Bill Parcells was not happy his team's sloppy and undisciplined play in the 13-11 loss to the Cardinals last Saturday.

Not after everything he did in the offseason to change the behavior of his team, which was an undisciplined mess in last season's 6-10 debacle.

Parcells changed coaches, brought in new players and even got in better shape so he could "stay on their ass" every day in training camp.

What did the Cowboys do in their first public outing?

They committed 12 penalties for 91 yards, including five holding calls on offense.

After failing to score in the first preseason game the past two years, Parcells spent more time in training camp preparing his team for the first game than ever before.

As Parcells said: "Decidedly more time."

The Cowboys had two scrimmages totaling 154 plays and daily full-pad practices.

So how did the Cowboys perform in their first public outing?

Quarterback Drew Bledsoe and the first team offense scored no points, tallied one first down and mustered only 17 yards total offense.

The first team defense allowed the Cardinals to jump out to a 10-0 lead behind quarterback Kurt Warner, who completed 14 of 19 passes for 151 yards and a 31-yard touchdown pass to receiver Larry Fitzgerald.

"Overall, we've got a lot to do," Parcells said. "And I pretty much expected it. But I didn't expect to have five or six holding penalties. We were pretty sloppy out of the gate here. We're not going to be able to overcome a lot of the things we did here."

Bledsoe, a 13-year veteran signed in the off season to help make the Cowboys winners again, was undone by poor blocking up front, poor field position and a dropped pass.

Still he didn't look good in his first game in a Cowboys uniform, completing four of eight passes for 27 yards. In fact, he looked a lot like the quarterback Buffalo got rid of in the offseason. He took two sacks because he held the ball too long or the receivers didn't get open. The Cowboys have been pushing him to get the ball off a little quicker.

"It's early and I don't think we should hit the panic button," Bledsoe said. "We're still working on some things. It's the first game. But it's the first game for them, too. We'll tip our caps to them, but at the same time, we have some issues that we have to address. We have to play better football and we have to play smarter. We can't have a lot of penalties that keep moving us backwards."

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was admittedly disappointed in what he saw from his team, saying he expected more from the first units on both sides of the ball.

He said he definitely expected more from Bledsoe, though he allows poor line play played a key role in his performance.

Left tackle Flozell Adams, a two-time Pro Bowler, was beaten for a sack on Bledsoe by Cardinals end Bertrand Berry. Rookie right tackle Rob Petitti was simply overmatched on the other side by Chike Okeafor, who also had a sack on Bledsoe.

While it's too early to consider Bledsoe's first game woes a major concern, the same can't be said for right tackle.

Petitti, a sixth-round pick from Pittsburgh, got the start against the Cardinals after Jacob Rogers missed practice last week with a shoulder injury. Rogers, who had been running with the first team throughout training camp, was the player the Cowboys hoped would win the job. But questions about his shoulder had the Cowboys wondering whether they could count on him.

They didn't get the answer they wanted Saturday night when Rogers left the game in the second quarter with a sprained knee. A final prognosis won't be revealed until the Cowboys get back to training camp Monday in Oxnard, Calif. What they know for now is they have major trouble at right tackle.

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