Young Cowboys Ready for Opener

IRVING - As the Cowboys continue to prepare for Sunday's season opener in San Diego, head coach Bill Parcells is confident in his team's ability, however he's unsure of what lies in the final result.

BLEDSOE OLDER, WISER: Looking towards Sunday's season opener in San Diego, Cowboys' head coach Bill Parcells said he's as confident as ever in veteran quarterback Drew Bledsoe's ability to move the offense and put points on the board.

"I do think he's having fun and enjoying himself. Hopefully we can put him in position to be successful. That's what we are trying to do, and I'm confident he can handle what we are doing," he said.

Parcells also said that he's noticed several changes in the veteran quarterback this offseason.

"He's a more serious minded player now. Just from a maturity level then. He knows things he has to do," he said. "I'm not trying to be funny here, but he's a lot crankier than he was (as a younger player). He's like me. He just gets more upset with himself quicker."

WATCH THE TIGHT END: Pro Bowl tight end Antonio Gates is suspended for Sunday's game against Dallas after holding out during the early part of training camp, but Parcells still expects the Chargers to throw a good bit to the tight end position.

"Whenever you don't have a productive receiver, someone has to step up and do it or your offense suffers," he said. "You have one less weapon. But, they are pretty good at tight end and they are going to throw the ball to their tight ends no matter who's in there.

"Now whether that guy can produce as much as Gates, I don't know," he added.

Gates caught 81 passes for 964 yards and 13 touchdowns last year.

YOUNG PLAYERS IN THE SPOTLIGHT: With several rookies expected to make a major contribution on the defensive side of the ball this weekend, Parcells is curious to see how they respond in their first regular season game.

"I feel confident we can play well," he said. "I hope we do play well. And I feel confident that our young players can play well. Whether they do or not, I don't know."

First round picks OLB Demarcus Ware and DE Marcus Spears, as well as second round pick LB Kevin Burnett and fourth round pick DE Chris Canty are all expected to see the field Sunday afternoon in San Diego.

CHARGERS ALSO IN 3-4: Like the Cowboys, the Chargers also play a 3-4 defense, and Parcells said that could possibly help his offense on Sunday.

"In some cases it does, yes. We've been practicing against basically the same look most of the summer. But it's the players playing in those looks that makes it more difficult or easy."

Keep in mind there are several differences between the two units.

"They play a few more shades," Parcells said comparing the two. "(Defensive cooridinator) Wade (Phillips) has made some changes in it. But the fundamentals of the defense are pretty much the same."

QUOTE TO NOTE: "Whatever the situation calls for, he's my main runner. I would not like to run him 30 times a game on a consistent basis. That would be 480 carries, that would be a little high. I would like to keep it somewhere in a moderate range. 20," -- Parcells on starting running back Julius Jones.

QUICK HITS: Parcells said he thinks Peerless Price will be "fine" playing the X-receiver position Sunday. ... Parcells is unsure if rookie RB Marion Barber will make the trip to San Diego. ... Parcells maintains that La'Roi Glover continues to excel in the 3-4 defense. "We are hopefully going to have a good six man rotation (on the defensive line) where almost everybody plays the same amount. Maybe La'Roi and Greg (Ellis) play a little more because we'll use them in the nickel.

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