Writing On the Wall For Ellis

Defensive end Greg Ellis saw it coming in the offseason. At 280 pounds, he knew he wasn't a good fit for the 3-4 defense.

He was too small to take the pounding on an every-down basis. He knew the Cowboys eventually would be looking in another direction.

He even said as much, causing a controversy in the preseason.

Cowboys coach Bill Parcells said it was much ado about nothing and that Ellis would continue to have a big role with the Cowboys.

Well, 13 games into the season, Ellis is pretty much a backup to rookie defensive end Chris Canty.

Canty has started the past two games, primarily, Parcells said, because the Cowboys were facing run-oriented offenses and Canty gave them a better chance of stopping the run because of his size.

But while Ellis had started the previous 11 games, his role has been the same as it was the last two weeks. He has averaged about 25 plays a game, playing mostly as a nickel pass-rusher.

Ellis, who led the team in sacks in each of the past four years and leads in 2005 with eight, understands what's happening but refuses to make a big deal out of it.

"This is not a disappointing thing to me," Ellis said. "The main objective is to win football games. If the Dallas Cowboys feel like this gives us our best chance to win, then that is what we are going to do. I have no problem with that."

Due a $500,000 roster bonus in March and a $3 million salary next year, Ellis also understands that what is good for the Cowboys this year might not be acceptable in 2006. He said he is very well aware of the future implications but can only worry about this year.

"We are just trying to hold it together, win as many as we can this year and move on from there," Ellis said.

PLAYER NOTES
--DE Chris Canty did not practice Thursday but remains probable with a sprained ankle. Cowboys coach Bill Parcells hopes Canty will be able to practice on Friday, but he said Canty will have to demonstrate he can function at some point before he can play against the Redskins on Sunday.

--WR Patrick Crayton hasn't caught a pass in two games since returning from ankle surgery. Cowboys coach Bill Parcells said Crayton has been rusty.

"I think this is a guy -- I'm pretty sure I'm not misjudging this, now -- I think this is a guy that has to practice," Parcells said. "He grooved himself a certain way. I think some guys can just get back and be right on it. I don't think he did that very well, so I don't think it has anything to do with the physical. It's just getting in tune with the game now."

--CB Anthony Henry did not look like the same player against the Chiefs last Sunday as he did earlier in the season, when he was considered the most valuable player on defense. It was Henry's first game after missing three of the previous four with a strained groin. Cowboys coach Bill Parcells has told Henry he is waiting on the guy who played for the Cowboys before he got hurt, not the one wearing No. 42 now.

--QB Drew Bledsoe said he came to Dallas in the offseason to play meaningful games in December as a part of a playoff contender. Cowboys coach Bill Parcells is counting on Bledsoe's experience in big games and his motivation to win to serve as an example for the younger players on the team.

"That is the fun part of this game, really," Parcells said. "And I think the older you get or the more you've been in it or the more you've done it, the more you appreciate that. He's been in a couple of Super Bowl chases and in the playoffs several times, and I think that's the thing that's probably driving him. ... This game is a test all the time for all of us, but just because you've failed the test every once in a while doesn't mean you don't enjoy that part of it, because you do. You don't enjoy not succeeding in some respects, but you do enjoy the process of playing to do it. That's what he's really saying."

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