Parcells Respects Beamer Ball

IRVING, TX - Cowboys head coach talks about his team headed towards the second half of the season.

On The Marc
Head coach Bill Parcells showed confidence in his own ability to analyze personnel when talking about the signing of Marc Columbo, formerly of the Chicago Bears. He saw something, he thinks, that the Bears might have missed, and his track record suggests that he has a knack for salvaging veterans off other teams' waiver lists.

"I've done it before, and if you like, I can enumerate those for you," Parcells said. "I did it with Johnnie Cooks, Keith Byars, Vinny Testaverde and you might even say with Drew Bledsoe."

He added that Columbo, a former first-round pick by Chicago out of Boston College, has the ingredients to be another reclamation success.

"He's a young man who had a very unfortunate knee injury" while with the Bears, Parcells said. "It prevented him from lifting weights with his legs for quite a while. But I've known that he's a bright guy, a tough kid."

Parcells said that his expectations for Columbo do not necessarily include immediate production on the field.

"I told him when he got here, 'don't look at this like we need you in a week-and-a-half. Look at it like we might need you down the road. We might need you in the offseason,' " Parcells said. "What that does is it takes a little pressure off, knowing that we're not going to judge him right away.

"He's been training. He's been on it for four or five months, but that's not enough. You really need to be on it for about a year-and-a-half. The thing I like about him is that there's not a lazy bone in his body."

Columbo is the second tackle to sign with the Cowboys in the last two weeks; Dallas signed Ethan Brooks when starting left tackle Flozell Adams saw his season come to a premature end by tearing knee ligaments. Parcells said that he's relatively pleased with the performance turned in by Torrin Tucker since he took over at left tackle for Adams, and that his overall impression of the offensive line has been good.

"Somewhat," he said when asked if he's pleased with the offensive line as a unit. "I wouldn't want to lose a guard right now … or a tackle or a center -- I really wouldn't. Ben Noll is coming along a little, and I think (Stephen) Peterman could fill in at one (guard) spot. Ethan Brooks is a smart guy, and we let a kid (Shannon Snell) off the practice squad yesterday that I kind of liked. I hope to get him back sometime."

Whereas much of the early-season focus centered around rookie right tackle Rob Petitti, Tucker has been receiving much of the attention over the last couple of weeks. Parcells said Tucker has played well since being inserted in the starting lineup in Adams' spot.

"I think it would be tough to move Torrin Tucker back to right tackle now," Parcells said. "I see something … he's better-suited where he is. It's not that I was wrong before, with him on the right side, but he's done pretty well on the left side. In Torrin's case, when he plays on the right side, he behaves a certain way. On the left side, he behaves a little different. It's hard to say what it is -- I just don't know.

"I've spent a lot of time with (Tucker) over the last three years, some of it not very pleasant -- some threatening. I call him 'El Gato' (The Cat), because it's like he has nine lives. He should have been gone -- he really should. But now he's getting close to crossing that line, and when he does cross it … don't screw it up. I like the kid, I really do. I think he has a chance to be OK.

On The Run
"The thing that always concerns me," Parcells said, "is managing the roster. I'm always thinking, and talking to Jerry and Stephen Jones, 'if we get a tight end hurt, where are we going (for a replacement)? If we get a running back hurt … I did something with Anthony Thomas (releasing the veteran ball carrier earlier this week), but if we lose someone else, where are we going?' Those are the things I'm always thinking about.

The main reason for Thomas' release, Parcells said, was not because of poor performance on his part, but because of the performance of the team's three other -- and younger -- running backs: Julius Jones, Marion Barber and Tyson Thompson.

"I'm happy" with the running back position, Parcells said. "I have three young kids. None of them is perfect -- each has a lot they can do to round out, to become a complete player. Tyson, he's really a young pup, but I do know he can run hard, and he'll really round out, I think. Barber -- I really thought the (pro) game might be too big for him, but I was wrong. And with Julius, there's a lot he can do to round out into that kind of player. But I know what he can do when he's going well."

The wild card in the running back rotation is fullback Lousaka Polite, who Parcells said might actually be hampered by his superior intellect.

"'Lou' is so intelligent," Parcells said. "Everything you tell him, he's going to ingest all of it, which could get him in trouble. With a player like 'Louie,' if you tell him too much, it might make him tentative, because he gets all of it. He understands all of the concepts we teach so well that he might over-analyze a little.

The logjam in the backfield, therefore, made it necessary for the team to jettison Thomas.

"I liked Anthony," Parcells said. "He's a good all-around back. He can play in this league, and he probably will for someone. But at this time, (his presence) was basically stopping progress (of the other young running backs). That's the best way to put it."

Beamer Believer
Parcells said that the team's decision to re-sign two former Dallas safeties, Tony Dixon and Lynn Scott, was not because of insufficient production from Willie Pile.

"Yeah, I had some concerns about Willie," Parcells said. "He played about 20 plays on defense and about 20 plays on special teams.

"But I told him that I like Virginia Tech players, the way they're trained. I don't know their coach (Frank Beamer), but I have a great deal of admiration for him. Every player that goes through there -- and I'm not recruiting for the school here -- every player that goes through there is trained to be a special teams player. Every one."

Considering Parcells' obsession with special teams, those statements should help Pile stick for a while in Dallas.

New Triplets?
New kicker Shaun Suisham made both of his field goal attempts in his NFL debut Sunday against the Cardinals, but Parcells admitted that he's far from over-confident about the kicking game.

"I still have some concerns about the kicking game," Parcells said. "He did OK the other day, and he kicked extra well today (in Thursday's practice) -- the best since he's been here.

"The thing that's encouraging to me is that he was extremely productive in college (at Bowling Green). He made a lot of big kicks. My hope is that he really settles in here and gets comfortable. Who knows? We may have a young deep snapper (L.P. Ladouceur), a young kicker (Suisham) and a young punter (Mat McBriar) who could be around here for a long time."

Players Can Say 'Bye' To Time Off
Without a game this weekend, Parcells was asked why he doesn't give the players an extended break from practice and the daily routine.

"I learned the hard way not to give them four or five days off," he said. "I did that years ago. I gave my team four or five days off, and then it took three days for them to get the team back to where we were. I told them I was never going to do that again -- they could forget about it."

The difficulties, Parcells said, centered around more than the decisions players make about what to do with their time off.

"I don't care what's worked for other coaches," he said. "When you give them too much time off, they can lose their timing, they can put on weight, they can pull muscles …"

Of course, Parcells also admitted that an extended break -- particularly for a team with as many young players as the Cowboys have -- can present pitfalls because of the distractions players could encounter.

"The veterans tend to look at (time off) as a chance to re-charge a little bit," he said. "Some young players act like sailors on shore leave."

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