TUESDAY NEWSMAKERS: "One play left!'' hollered coach Bill Parcells. "Offense vs defense! One play! Let's find out who wants it!'' The Cowboys' focus was on the two-minute drill, with the defense instructed to avoid hitting. They did that – but they didn't avoid completely embarrassing every level of the Cowboys' offensive depth chart.
We break it down, play-by-play:
1) Bledsoe reads blitz, airmails pass incomplete.
2) Bledsoe is sacked by Ware. Parcells, cutting short the first team's stint, yells, "Give me some other guys! Get them outta here!
3) Romo fumbles the snap, dumps to Barber.
4) Romo complete underneath to Barber.
5) On an announced second-and-3, Romo completes a slant to Fasano.
6) Romo is sacked by Jason Hatcher.
"You just cost us the game, son,'' Parcells screams at second-team left tackle Pat McQuistan. "You just cost us the game.''
7) Romo dump pass to Barber.
8) Parcells announces that it's fourth-and-4: Romo's pass is intercepted at the line of scrimmage by a sure-handed Junior Glymph.
"Game over!'' Parcells yells.
9) Henson completes a slant to Sam Hurd.
10) Henson's pass is incomplete out of bounds, but nearly intercepted."C'mon, defense,'' instructs Parcells. "Talk to each other! You're not communicating!''
(It occurs to me that the coach is being a little picky here, and that his defense is doing almost nothing wrong, but. …)
11) Third-and-4: Henson is nearly sacked (and probably would've been in a real game) by Chris Canty, and in trying to avoid Canty, throws an old-fashioned "jump pass'' that is nearly intercepted.
(And, it occurs to me, that for today anyway, this offense is a traffic jam.)
12) Fourth-and-4: Henson is sacked by Vontrell Jamison.
"Game over!'' yells Parcells, who must be growing tired of saying so.
13) Bledsoe dumps to Jones, who loses yards.
14) Bledsoe dumps to Jones for a short gain.
15) Bledsoe throws incomplete while under pressure.
16) Parcells announces that it's fourth-and-8. "One play! Somebody wins, somebody loses! Who's it going to be?''
(It occurs to me that I have a rather obvious prediction.)
Another sack (maybe a coverage sack) by Ware.
17) "Fourth down,'' Parcells says. "Win it or lose it.'' And the offense loses it, Romo getting sacked by Scott Shanle.
18) Fourth-and-8 for Henson: He's pressured up into the pocket, and as he's about to get sacked, he throws a nearly-intercepted ball while he's airborn, parallel to the ground.
After the whole fiasco is over, I approach defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer.
"You kicked their asses,'' I say.
"Naw, they got a couple yards off us,'' he says. "Besides, that don't mean anything. You know, it's too early.''
Of course. But "that'' is all we have to go on. So it means a little something. And the twinkle in Zimmer's eye proves it.
TUESDAY WHO'S HOT: Because Demarcus Ware was to be the subject of one reporter's otherwise innocuous feature story, coach Bill Parcells was asked repeated questions about Ware in the pre-practice press briefing.
"He looks like he's ready to rock,'' Parcells said.
And then the prediction came true. Ware participated in selected plays during the 18-snap two-minute-drill sequence that ended practice, and was a monster, recording a pair of sacks and leaving the O-line in shambles. (I hate to keep saying this about the offensive line, Dear Readers, but I'm not making any of it up.)
P.M. WHO'S NOT: Lincoln Kennedy is Who's Not, and not just because he essentially failed his physical during his visit to Oxnard. Now a new twist to the story: Kennedy retired two years ago. On Saturday, as you read here first, he officially un-retired. On Tuesday he worked out with Dallas and accepted the Cowboys' medical opinion and told the Cowboys (and us) that he would not pursue football at this time.
The latest: The Redskins and Cardinals have both called. They want to examine Kennedy's physical shape for themselves.
So we have another Lincoln Kennedy chapter – but not one, apparently, that will be written in Dallas.
TUESDAY QUOTE OF THE DAY: "I'm making progress. I appreciate Bill because he really wants me to be a part of it. To be in a 4-3, I'd be happier. I wish it was a 4-3 here. But I'm trying to make the best of it.'' – Greg Ellis, finally talking and suddenly compliant to the Cowboys move to a 3-4 and his new role in it.
T.O. IN THE P.M.: An invisible afternoon for the Cowboys' most visible star, Terrell Owens didn't catch a ball in the two-minute drill, didn't even get open. Maybe he jinxed himself with a new outfit, as he dumped the dark bodysuit, complete with long sleeves and skin-tight pants, in favor of a white version. And dumped the white shoes in favor of black hightops.
T.O. – who once again bent the ear of receivers coach Todd Haley after the workout – is always the contrarian. Which is much more acceptable when he actually gets open.
TUESDAY OFFBEAT BEAT: Parcells has a habit of comparing today's players to those who worked under him in the past. So Demarcus Ware is Lawrence Taylor and Jason Witten is Mark Bavaro and so on.
I thought he was stretching things a bit on Monday when he compared QB Tony Romo to ANY quarterback who'd actually gotten into an NFL game. But on Tuesday he compared Jamaica Rector to former Redskins wide receiver Gary Clark, who, Parcells said admiringly, "was always a pain in my rear."
Hey, I want it to happen: But Jamaica Rector?
Gary Clark played 11 seasons. Was selected for four Pro Bowls. Won two Super Bowls. Was named one of the 70 Greatest Redskins of All-Time.
Yes, we all hope Jamaica does all that for the Cowboys, but. …
TUESDAY MISCELLANY: Dallas signed free-agent defensive lineman Jason Davis, last a practice-squadder with Houston Texans. Davis, 6-3 and 290 pounds, wasn't drafted. He played his college ball at West Virginia. … The Cowboys are holding out from practice safety Justin Beriault (concussion). ... DL Marcus Spears returned to Oxnard to rehab with the team after having surgery on his right knee. … One reporter is now in the habit of feeding Parcells the previous night's St. Louis Cardinals baseball score.
Parcells is a friend of Tony LaRussa's, but I have two questions: 1) Doesn't Bill have a TV? ESPNews? A newspaper? 2) Does Bill possibly care? I have a feeling the exchange is the brainchild of the reporter, not of the coach. … Good reason to read TheRanchReport.com: A few reporters hung around the field at 1:30 p.m. or so, hoping to watch the Lincoln Kennedy workout. You, Dear Readers, knew well in advance that the workout was to be conducted first thing in the morning, following Kennedy's 7:30 a.m. flight arrival.
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