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

The Cowboys shuffled the offensive line personnel around Monday, and Bill Parcells insisted we all should read nothing into it. But, this much is clear: Al Johnson, despite added bulk, is (relatively speaking) a "finesse guy," while Andre Gurode is better at relying on his size to succeed.

A.M. NEWSMAKER: He can do it all. Kinda. A guy named Tyler Fredrickson now has himself a new one-year deal because he can kinda punt, kinda placekick and, if his Sunday evening tryout is any indication, can definitely kick off.

But, said coach Bill Parcells, "what role do placekickers usually fill?''

That's a nod to Mike Vanderjagt, not to Fredrickson, who'd previously had tryouts with the Broncos and Seahawks.

We predicted in our notes yesterday that it would come to this: One, a little competition for McBriar and Vanderjagt, and two – quite likely most important – a contestant to win the kickoff job, thus helping special teams but possibly eating up a roster spot.

Fredrickson's kickoffs on Sunday night were consistently booming, pushing ball-shaggers back against the fence, which is the equivalent of "out of the back of the end zone.'' He was also directional-kicking, and his balls almost always ended up where he wanted them, to his deep left.

Why did he also placekick and punt? Maybe he told the Cowboys he could "do it all.'' (To which somebody probably wondered if he can play a little offensive tackle.)

Seriously, Mike Vanderjagt needs to win the kickoff job. Especially in this era of specialization, roster spots are too precious to carry three legs.

A.M. WHO'S HOT: Keith Davis was at his most active in the morning workout, but at lunchtime, Parcells was at his most active pumping up rookie free safety Pat Watkins, who recorded a high-profile pick. The coach said that while the 6-5 Watkins "looks skinny,'' he's actually up to 211 pounds and "should get in the 220's pretty shortly.'' Parcells called Watkins "unique,'' and predicted "he'll be a pretty good player someday.''

All of which means the competition at free safety is just beginning.

A.M. WHO'S NOT: The Cowboys released cornerback Byron Parker and linebacker J.J. Horne; no headline-grabbers there. But receiver Ahmad Merritt is also gone, an early release for a guy who has some experience in this team's camp, was thought at one time to have some ability and was fighting for time with a group that, behind Owens, Glenn and Crayton, would seem to have a vacancy.

A.M. QUOTE OF THE DAY: "I didn't have to do it. But yes, I do expect him to be here.'' – Jerry Jones speaking exclusively to TheRanchReport.com on Parcells, the two-year extension given him, and the owner's thoughts on who will coach the Cowboys in 2007.

T.O. IN THE A.M.: OK, so T.O. might be a little bit spoiled.

As he was preparing to meet the press, Owens called for a member of the PR staff to join him. The staffer did so obligingly, and was asked a question by Terrell.

"Is my nose clean?'' T.O. asked.

"Yup,'' replied the staffer. "No boogers.'' It's true: Terrell Owens has his own personal Snot Checker.

The next challenge: T.O. continuing to "keep his nose clean,'' in the figurative sense.

A.M. OFFBEAT BEAT: The Cowboys shuffled the offensive line personnel around, and Parcells insisted we all should read nothing into it. But. …

This much is clear: Al Johnson, despite added bulk, is (relatively speaking) a "finesse guy.''

Andre Gurode is better at relying on his size. Parcells conceded that Johnson excels when lined up against a 4-3, the different assignments allowing him to get to "the second level,'' to use his quickness to get on linebackers.

Meanwhile, Parcells added, Gurode is a good test in Cowboys practices when working against Dallas' own 3-4.

Solution: Johnson is the Cowboys center against 4-3 teams. Gurode is the Cowboys center against 3-4 teams.

See? That wasn't so hard.

A.M. MISCELLANY: TheRanchReport.com scoop regarding un-retiring tackle Lincoln Kennedy, a former Raiders Pro Bowler out of football for the last two years, isn't going away. Instead, it's getting to be as big as the 6-7, 385-pound Kennedy himself. The Redskins are bringing him in for a Tuesday workout, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is interested in knowing more, and Kennedy probably just needs to demonstrate that he's close to in-shape to end up with a job somewhere. … I was again told by a staffer that QB Drew Henson's lack of confidence in himself has helped lead to the staff's lack of confidence in him.

Meanwhile, Parcells is talking up No. 2 guy Tony Romo. "I will play Tony a lot in the preseason," Parcells said. "I have to decide where he is in this room. Our plans are to play him a lot." … Terrell Owens' critics say he sometimes doesn't demonstrate the best hands in the league, and he did indeed drop a few catchable balls in the morning workout. … Safety Justin Beriault left the practice field early with a possible concussion.

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