Camp Notebook: Who's Hot? Who's Not?

OXNARD, Calif. - One player earns attention here because of the way he looks, another because of the way he performed in full-contact goalline work. Terence Newman was nothing short of dominant, thwarting the Cowboys' offense on back-to-back plays.

A.M. NEWSMAKER: The Cowboys' first practice of camp in Oxnard was marred by one negative note: Defensive lineman Marcus Spears exited the workout in the late going, complaining of discomfort in his right knee. The problem did not seem sever at the time; Spears actually attempted to re-enter practice for a moment. But now Dallas is concerned that it might be a cartilage tear that could require surgery and three weeks of rehab.

"And he really needs the work,'' said Parcells of Spears, who also missed three weeks in his rookie season last summer.

And it's funny how these things work out: Among the candidates to take some snaps with the first team at left end now could be disgruntled Greg Ellis.

A.M. WHO'S HOT: One player earns attention here because of the way he looks, another because of the way he performed in full-contact goalline work. Terence Newman was nothing short of dominant, thwarting the Cowboys' offense on back-to-back plays.

The "looks' guy is offensive tackle Rob Petitti, who earned praise from coach Bill Parcells for transforming his body in the last year. "He looks like a completely different person,'' Parcells said in praise.

A.M. WHO'S NOT: For a moment, it looked like the Who's Not was Drew Bledsoe. On the next play, it looked like it would be Tony Romo. On the next, Drew Henson. … until observers realized that the deep throws from, for instance, Bledsoe to Terrell Owens, was intentionally airmailed out of bounds. It's part of Parcells' attention to detail: practicing the art of purposely throwing a clock-stopping incompletion into the stands. The approach may be a bit anal, but it was successful; all four QBs threw truly awful passes.

A.M. QUOTE OF THE DAY: "That's the way to dominate, D! That's the way to kick their ass!'' – Jason Ferguson, announcing to his team and the 1,000-or-so people in attendance which side he thought won the goalline battle.

Terrell Owens made an impression at his first full practice as a Cowboy (his deep-ball TD from Tony Romo was the ooh-and-aah play of the morning), and made an impression afterwards, treating 70 or so media types to a thoughtful give-and-take.
T.O. IN THE A.M.: Terrell Owens made an impression at his first full practice as a Cowboy (his deep-ball TD from Tony Romo was the ooh-and-aah play of the morning), and made an impression afterwards, treating 70 or so media types to a thoughtful give-and-take. But the most interesting T.O. impression came from the VIP gallery, where some of his family collected, talking with fans and waving at the centerpiece of their family.

Owens' mom and his young son were among the observers. Said Mom: "He's a humble man.'' Oh, and also part of the group: actress Sanaa Lathan ("Love And Basketball''), a friend of Owens' publicist.

A.M. OFFBEAT BEAT: Safety Keith Davis did not especially like the line of questioning from a group of reporters who want to know more about the conflicting stories he's told regarding his being shot. He ended the session unhappily but not before offering the possibility that he will play the season with a bullet lodged in his thigh. "It doesn't bother me,'' he said. I'm also told that the bullet that supposedly "grazed'' his head in the assault technically "bounced off'' the top of his head.

Now, that's one Magic Bullet!

One more Keith Davis oddity: He says – and a Parcells confidant concurs – that he and the coach have not met to discuss the incident. A.M. MISCELLANY: Roy Williams offered up a number of candidates for Hit of the Morning, but the coaches' vote goes to backup LB Kevin Burnett, who flew above the line of scrimmage on goalline to meet and greet runner Lousaka Polite. The good news for Polite is that he survived the hit and ended up across the goalline, and later earned praise for Parcells, who promised to use the back as a "hybrid guy.''

That note, as well as Parcells' positive words about Marion Barber ("He'll have a greater role than last year'), suggest strongly that right now, Julius Jones is not considered an every-down back. … As we reported at the top of the morning, Flozell Adams spent practice working out with strength coach Joe Juraszek and is on the PUP. Parcells feigned concern, but the Cowboys are certain he'll be ready to go shortly after failing the Friday conditioning test. …

Defensive end Jay Ratliff seems to be on the way to becoming a Parcells' favorite, in part because of his versatility. He is getting a look at some OLB. … With Adams unavailable, Marc Colombo got most of the work at LT, coaches preferring to leave Jason Fabini fighting Petitti for time at RT. … Get ready to watch the rapid ascent of rookie first-round pick Bobby Carpenter, who started the day as a third-stringer. How long can that last? … Parcells has informed Drew Bledsoe that the QB should "get a haircut. He'd look younger that way.''


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