Monday News & Draft Notes

Dallas has held private workouts for a number of players that could develop into return specialists.

TUCKER THANKFUL FOR OPPORTUNITY: Much-maligned tackle Torrin Tucker is finally headed to Tampa Bay as the Cowboys did not match the offer sheet the restricted free agent signed with the Buccaneers.

Tucker's contract calls for him to make $1.3 million in 2006 and 2007. And because Tucker was signed as an undrafted free agent in 2003, the Cowboys will get no compensation for losing him.

"I am happy the Cowboys gave me an opportunity because it has allowed me to take the next step in my career with the Buccaneers," Tucker said.

Tucker will now get a chance to start at left tackle with Tampa Bay. The Cowboys viewed him as no better than the fourth tackle behind starters Flozell Adams and Jason Fabini and backup Rob Petitti, which is one reason they were not expected to match the $2.6 million offer.

Dallas is also expected to add a guard and a tackle later this month in the draft.

HENSON NOT TOO SHABBY BUT ...: Cowboys-allocated QB Drew Henson completed 15-of-23 passes for 192 yards and two touchdowns Saturday in Rhein's 31-21 win over the Hamburg Sea Devils in NFL Europe action.

Ironically, Henson completed both touchdown passes to former Cowboys wide receiver Zuriel Smith.

Smith was originally drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in the sixth-round of the 2003 NFL Draft (186th overall). After not playing in 2004 or 2005, he was recently signed by the New England Patriots as a free agent in early February.

Meanwhile Henson continues to make the most of his time overseas as the Cowboys ponder their future at the quarterback position. Clearly, Dallas has its starter already in place for the next two seasons in Drew Bledsoe. However after that remains a mystery.

Owner Jerry Jones wants to give Henson the opportunity to compete for the job, but the former Michigan standout has struggled mightily against mediocre competition. In addition, Dallas has shown interest in Clemson QB Charlie Whitehurst, who is expected to be a third or fourth round pick in the upcoming NFL Draft.

If the Cowboys elect to draft a pro-style quarterback, like Whitehurst, with one of their first three or four picks in the upcoming draft, it will be a clear indication the organization is moving away from the idea that Henson will be the team's starting quarterback after Bledsoe.

COWBOYS CHECKING ON VERSATILE ATHLETES: One draft topic seemingly going unnoticed this off-season is the Dallas Cowboys' interest in return specialists and college quarterbacks who may play other positions at the next level.

So far, TheRanchReport.com has learned of two college quarterbacks in Missouri's Brad Smith and Virginia's Marques Hagans who will likely play different positions at the next level and who have also had private workouts by the Cowboys.

In addition, the team has also worked out Stanford's T.J. Rushing, a return specialist, and Fresno State's Wendell Mathis, a speedy running back that also has outstanding return ability.

So why the interest in return specialists?

Well, for starters the Cowboys top punt returner from last season, Patrick Crayton, averaged 7.2 yards/return ... which was good enough to rank 19th in the NFL. While that number may be respectable, Bill Parcells would like to see more production.

Rookie running back Tyson Thompson had a good year returning kickoffs last season for Dallas, averaging 24.5 yards/return, good enough for 10th in the NFL.

The Cowboys' interest in return specialists/athletes can be further explained by the recent success of players like Antwaan Randel El. Randel El was a former college quarterback who has proven to be explosive in the return game and as a wide receiver at the pro level.

He was also utilized in passing situations on trick plays with the Steelers in recent years.

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