Decisions, Decisions

Cowboys kicker Mike Vanderjagt missed two preseason games with a groin injury. But he was healthy before last Sunday's season opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

And he is healthy now.

But Cowboys coach Bill Parcells didn't allow Vanderjagt to kick in the opener, choosing instead to go with backup Shaun Suisham.

Suisham then miss a 36-yard chip shot field goal.

Still, it's not a guarantee that Vanderjagt will kick against the Redskins on Sunday. Nevermind the fact that Vanderjagt was given a three-year, $5.4 million contract to save the Cowboys kicking game, he has been very inconsistent in training camp and practice.

Parcells also said he doesn't know what's wrong with Vanderjagt. But what's certain is he hasn't seen enough to inspire confidence.

"I hadn't seen enough in practice up to this point to play him Sunday," Parcells said. "I just hadn't seen enough. Now maybe this week it'll look a little different to me, I hope. I don't have a degree in psychology, and I can't speculate on what somebody's thinking. But you need to demonstrate to gain confidence, and so far that's been a little bit of a problem."

While Parcells is not ready to abandon hope that Vanderjagt can return to his past form, Parcells said he has to see more than he has seen so far.

"It's a long year," Parcells said. "But I do have to see something. To go out there and you are not making a lot of kicks, it's tough. We will decide later this week."

Regarding Suisham, Parcells said he kicked off well against the Jaguars but was undone by the missed field goal and a poor onside kick attempt. He kicks off much better than Vanderjagt but he still an unproven kicker. Despite Vanderjagt's struggles, he does have the history being the most accurate kicker in NFL history.

* Parcells also wants no part of a quarterback controversy with Drew Bledsoe.

He says Bledsoe is his guy until further notice. But Bledsoe is not making it easy, following Sunday's dreadful performance against the Jaguars.

He completed 16 of 33 passes for 246 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions. His quarterback rating was a dreadful 45.8. Complicating matters is the faith the Cowboys showed in the preseason in backup Tony Romo. Parcells said he would like to get Romo some playing time in 2006. The question of whether that time will come sooner or later made Parcells a little testy on Monday.

"I told you I was getting Romo ready to play. And at some point in time, I'm hopeful I will be able to play him this year," Parcells said. "Now, I don't know when, where or under what circumstances. But that shouldn't be the story for today because it's a non-story."

Asked to clarify his comments, considering that if Bledsoe is his quarterback no matter what, why would Parcells want to get Romo in a game, Parcells snapped.

"Well, I tell you what we'll do -- you write what you want, I'm going to explain it the best way I can," Parcells said. "I think you're trying to get me to say at some point in time I'm going to get Romo in. That time is not now, OK? Is that clear enough? Do you want me to repeat it?"

Parcells did acknowledge that Bledsoe could have played better against the Jaguars.

"I'm hopeful that he will," Parcells said. "But I am going to give him an opportunity to do that." Bledsoe owned up to his poor play and said he will work hard to be better against the Redskins on Sunday. But Bledsoe said he wasn't going to worry about talk of a quarterback controversy.

"In this league and, really, probably just in life, how you respond to things defines who you are," he said. "I'm looking forward. I'm preparing to play the next game. I've got plenty on my plate in terms of going out and competing with the Redskins and hoping to lead this team and get us where we want to go."

The big question is Dallas is whether Bledsoe is he man to get the Cowboys where they want to go. He has not taken a team to the playoffs since 1998.

* Not surprisingly, Parcells didn't like much of what he saw against the Jaguars. But he couldn't help from being impressed with receiver Terrell Owens. Playing for first time in 10 months and playing for the first time since missing 21 practices in training camp with a strained groin, Owens looked like the same old Owens. He caught six passes for 80 yards and a touchdown.

"I thought it was pretty good," Parcells said of Owens' performance. "I thought overall for the first time out in a new offense. I thought it was pretty good."

* Parcells was also impressed with punter Matt McBriar. He averaged 53.2 yards on five punts, including a 62 yard effort that turned into a 66-yard net.

He simply flipped the field. The Cowboys went from facing fourth and 28 from the 9 to defending a Jaguars series that began on the Jacksonville 9 yard line.

"That was one of the great punts you'll see in pro football right there," Parcells said. "You go a long time without seeing one of those that doesn't roll. You will go years without seeing one of those that doesn't roll."

* LB Akin Ayodele had six tackles in his return to Jacksonville for the first time since signing with the Cowboys in the offseason. Ayodele was a second around pick of the Jaguars in 2002 and spent the first four years of his career with them.

* LB Greg Ellis has been voted as the team's defensive captain. QB Drew Bledsoe was named the offensive captain.

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