Cowboys Feel Sense of Urgency

OXNARD, Calif. - The time for talking is over and the time for winning is now for the Cowboys. That is the goal for 2006, and nobody is shying away from it. Not owner Jerry Jones or coach Bill Parcells.

"Yes, it's pretty obvious we have high expectations," Jones said. "My theme is simply, 'It's time to quit talking and go to the field.'"

After an offseason that featured a raise and a new contract for Parcells and a flurry of talent upgrades, led by controversial receiver Terrell Owens, the Cowboys opened training camp Friday with arguably their most talented team in a decade.

Parcells called this the best team the Cowboys have had since he came in four years ago.

The Cowboys have not been to the Super Bowl since the 1995 season and have not won a playoff game in 10 years. But there are widespread expectations that this is the year the luster finally gets put back on the franchise's hallowed blue star.

Jones and Parcells refuse to talk about it any more. It's time to make those super dreams a reality. The work begins in training camp.

Parcells recalled delivering a similar message to the players in their first team meeting.

"I told the team, 'I don't care how many lemons you have or what the quality of lemons are, you still have to go make the lemonade,'" Parcells said. "This is the time to try to make it."

Parcells and Jones say it's the quality of lemons taking the field in 2006 that has them excited.

Adding Owens, veteran kicker Mike Vanderjagt and a solid draft class to what was already a solid corps of young players has the Cowboys close to what Parcells was looking to build when he signed on in 2003.

The defense is one of the league's best and the Cowboys now have more firepower on offense and more depth across the board.

The time is certainly now or never.

"Yes, it's pretty obvious we have high expectations," Jones said. "My theme is simply, 'It's time to quit talking and go to the field.'"
Parcells readily acknowledges the pressure of finishing the job he started when he came to Dallas. Not only has it been nine seasons since he last took a team to the Super Bowl, it is taking Parcells longer to rebuild in Dallas than it had for him in previous stops with the Giants, Patriots and Jets. Parcells is 25-23 in three years with the Cowboys, while missing the playoffs in two of those seasons.

"When you are the head coach in this league you feel pressure all the time," Parcells said. "I don't think there is one guy coaching in this business who doesn't feel pressure. I know I have been there."

He says it is time for him to take the next step in Dallas.

That will likely depend on how the Cowboys handle a difficult early schedule that has them playing six of their first nine games on the road and their ability to address remaining concerns about the offensive line and at free safety.

Parcells said the Cowboys must come out of training camp ready to go because a good start is very important.

Doing it now is also important because Parcells knows this is his last coaching stop.

He has no plans on retiring but he says his clock is ticking at age 65.

"When you're close to the end, it gets a little bit more precious to you because this is my life's work and something I have enjoyed doing," Parcells said. "When you get near the end, each season and each game is a more precious. It sounds corny but that is the way it is for me at this moment."

BATTLE OF THE WEEK: Rob Petitti vs. Jason Fabini and Marc Columbo at RT -- Petitti was a disappointment as a rookie last season, leading the league in sacks allowed. He had a great offseason and came to camp in great shape. Coach Bill Parcells calls him one of the team's most improved players. However, the Cowboys signed the veteran Fabini for a fallback option. Fabini did not have a good off-season and has some catching up to do.

OTHER BATTLE FRONTS: Al Johnson vs. Andre Gurode at center. Look for Gurode to finally win this job; Tony Romo remains ahead of Drew Henson in the battle for backup quarterback. He looks more confident and more comfortable.

PLAYER OF THE WEEK: WR Terrell Owens -- All eyes were on receiver Terrell Owens and he didn't disappoint. He was the best player on the field and a crowd pleaser off it. He signed autographs and did interviews by the dozens. He routinely beat cornerback Anthony Henry for receptions.

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