Petitti Making No Assumptions

There aren't a lot of people who would have the nerve to call Rob Petitti a teacher's pet. But it's clear that what Dallas head coach Bill Parcells wants, he gets, when it comes to his rookie offensive tackle.

Petitti showed up at the team's April mini-camp at a not-so-svelte 361 pounds. Since Parcells told him that was too much, the sixth-round draft choice from Pitt has shed 41 pounds in four months. Petitti has heard Parcells' desire to limit how much the team asks of a rookie … and now is in the running to begin the season as the Cowboys' starting right tackle.

At the beginning of training camp, all indications suggested that the Cowboys were going to give Jacob Rogers every chance to earn the starting position. But the lingering injuries that plagued Rogers basically since he entered the league eventually were his undoing, as the team cut the former second-round draft choice earlier this week. That leaves the team with three candidates for the job: Kurt Vollers, who Parcells is reluctant to start because he values Vollers' ability to play (or back up) at either tackle spot; Torrin Tucker, the 2004 opening day starter who seemingly tried to play his way off the roster with his mental errors in the Cowboys' first preseason game; and Vollers, who had shown considerable promise, but is saddled with the word Parcells most wants to avoid when describing his starters: rookie.

"I don't know if I could ever feel 100 percent comfortable starting a rookie," Parcells said Thursday. "I don't know if he'll start or not."

If Petitti starts Saturday's game against the Texans, as many think he will, speculation will continue to grow that Petitti will end up in the starting lineup when the Cowboys meet the San Diego Chargers in the first game of the regular season. Petitti refuses to even consider the idea.

"No, I don't think it's my job, not at all," Petitti said. "It's too early, and that's not my decision. I'm not even thinking about that. I'm just trying to get better every day."

Despite the fact that the number of competitors was reduced when Rogers got cut, Petitti said he doesn't feel any closer to claiming the starting job.

"My mindset hasn't changed -- it's no different than if Jacob got hurt or was still here," Petitti said. "I have to get better every day. And if I get the starting job, I still have to get better."

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