Going into Saturday's 13-3 exhibition-opening win at Seattle there was speculation that Cowboys coach Bill Parcells' pooh-poohing of his receivers corps was intended as a cattle prod of the herd of unproven pass-catchers who crowd his roster (if not also a prod of that one fella on the bike, the erstwhile leader of said herd).
"I don't who's probably going to be our 3-4-5 receivers yet,'' the coach had said.
But now you've seen them on the field. And when I supplement that with some information about some Cowboys phone calls, you'll realize. ...
The coach isn't playing a psychological game with the fellas. Nor, injuries aside, does he any longer have much reason for worry.
Yes, Terrell Owens is still portraying Lance Armstrong over there on that bike (or, with all the clowning that goes on atop the stationary seat, maybe Pee-Wee Herman is a better celebrity parallel), and so the Cowboys are wise to at least explore wideout options.
That's why Dallas was working the phones, checking the availability and health of assorted veteran receivers. One of those is Patrick Johnson, who confirms to TheRanchReport.com that he has indeed received a call and is interested in joining the club.
"I'd love to be a part of the Cowboys, especially considering that I live within jogging distance of Valley Ranch,'' Johnson tells TheRanchReport.com. "My agent (Jordan Woy) did talk to them. They wanted to know what kind of shape I'm in. I told them the same as I'm telling you: I'm in perfect shape, with fresh legs, ready to go, still wanting to continue to prove myself.''
The 5-10, 196-pound was once a second-round draft pick, in large part because of his world-class speed. He's been a valued special-teamer in stops that have included Jacksonville, Washington and frequently Baltimore (where he is a favorite of coach Brian Billick), but Johnson -- outside of catching 29 balls for the Ravens in '99 -- has never put up big receiving numbers.
"I've never gotten the chance to do that, for whatever reason,'' says Johnson, 30. "But I would relish the opportunity to contribute in any way to a great team and great organization like the Cowboys. Living here in the offseason, I've come to really respect what Mr. Jones and coach Parcells are building.''
One problem: While Johnson might have scratched his head over the most recent Dallas signing of nondescript wideout LaShaun Ward, and while he might have argued that he can do anything other available vets like Ricky Proehl, Kevin Johnson, Johnnie Morton or Az-Zahir Hakim can do, it's hard to argue with the solid work of Dallas' young receivers against the Seahawks.
Sam Hurd: If you bobble a ball and catch it, do you get a 'plus' for concentrating for the catch, or a 'minus' for having bobbled it in the first place? Hurd, trying to make a jump from the small-college level, dropped the first pass of the game, but overall the rookie free agent -- who earned the start -- did nothing to hurt himself here.
Jamaica Rector: The former practice-squadder is trying to make the leap to the Big Team and contributed a pair of 20-yard receptions, both of the over-the-shoulder variety.
Skyler Green: The rookie from LSU made a most notable bid to be the return man here. The fourth-rounder showed great burst on his one kickoff return for 29 yards and on three punt returns on which he averaged 11.7 yards.
Patrick Crayton: He's penciled in as the No. 3 receiver, and his playmaking ability was on display as he outwrestled defenders for a 9-yard TD catch. That was just one highlight of a four-catch, 61-yard, one-TD night. He did, however, ding an ankle -- a story that TheRanchReport.com will monitor.
And then there are more kids: Terrance Copper (who joined Crayton with the second unit), and J.R. Tolver (with Rector on the third team), then Miles Austin and Ward.
Suddenly, it's not a lack of talent, but instead, Crayton's ankle, that might be the determining factor in Dallas' wideout search.
"I've got the pro guys (Cowboys scouts) looking and we are talking with some teams," Parcells said last week. "I think we are trying to be proactive on it and see which teams could be heavy in that area. ... We are heavy at a spot or two, so maybe we can do some business."
If Saturday night is any indication -- and the Cowboys can manage some healthy-related luck and some tough-to-come-by patience -- one of the positions Dallas might end up "heavy'' at could eventually be wide receiver.
Cowboys Contact Free Agent WR
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