Monday P.M. Insider Notebook

IRVING, Tex. – Ask Wade Phillips to cite players who impressed him during the just-complated three-day minicamp at Valley Ranch, and the new Cowboys coach will list a roster as large as the one running for President.

As Monday came to a close, Phillips applauded the work of Chris Canty and Tony Romo and Jason Hatcher and Terry Glenn and Terence Newman and Jason Witten and Demarcus Ware and. … well, pretty much everybody.

It's kind of like the answer I got when I visited with Nate Newton, the old Cowboy who popped into camp on Monday.

"What do I think of this minicamp? Every single guy is doing the right things, saying the right things, acting the right way. So it's exactly like every other minicamp since the beginning of time,'' Newton said.

Phillips would have likely gone on and on and on, making sure to include Terrell Owens – who, by the way, was a three-day standout by any measure – except that he knows the media is going to make an issue of T.O. whether the coach does or not.

"I thought I'd talk about the other guys a little bit,'' Phillips said Monday.

And "the other guys'' have done their bit.

Dallas' linebackers seem trimmer, more mobile. (Parcells, remember, wanted 260-pounders; suddenly now the same people are 245-pounders.) Dallas' running backs seem thicker and stronger. (Jason Garrett, you will recall from this space, plans on a "power running game'' like the one he was involved in here in the '90s.) And the offensive line looks like it oughta be used as foundation piers for the new stadium.

"They'e going to maul some people,'' Phillips said. "They're big and strong and athletic. ...'' Of course, it's minicamp. So, while a good time was had by all at Valley Ranch this weekend, a cautionary note: EVERYBODY looks strong and big and athletic.

Just like every other minicamp since the beginning of time.

WHO'S HOT: The receiving corps. This is an area where Phillips and staff seem intent on tailoring the philosophy to the talent. "When we have our wide receivers on the field, that's a lot of talent,'' the coach said. "They'll be hard to stop.'' Again, this seems obvious now. ... but it's never been quite evident enough in the past, not from the way the coach discussed the group and not from the way the staff handled the weekly gameplan.

WHO'S NOT: The football writers who are needing to have the concept of "Linebacker Roy Williams'' explained to them countless times over the course of these three days. I feel confident the astute reader of fully understands this, but, just in case: Williams is NOT playing linebacker in the strict sense.

On obvious passing downs, he is a candidate to move nearer the line of scrimmage while a DB who is superior in coverage assumes Williams' traditional safety spot. It is not dissimilar to what Bill Bates used to do here as a "Dime back'' – a linebacker by virtue of where he stands but in reality simply an extra DB.

Phillips finally kind of gave up on getting some of the gang to figure this out.

"You can call him a linebacker. ...'' the coach said, not quite exasperated.

QUOTABLE: "One of Roy's best assets is when he blitzes. So why don't we let him blitz?'' – Defensive coordinator Brian Stewart.

FISHELLANEOUS: As long as we're doing some Football 101 around here: Defensive coordinator Brian Stewart did some X'ing-and-O'ing on the features of Phillips' 3-4 defense. In short, what Parcells ran was more of a "fill-the-gap'' approach, and this is more of a "penetration'' approach. … Punter Mat McBriar seems to be getting the first crack at Tony Romo's old holder job. … I'm not a fan of Demarcus Ware spending a lot of time in coverage, but he did impress in the morning and afternoon workouts, the latter session featuring a high-leaping Ware pick. … Phillips on the "too-many-LBs'' position of Kevin Burnett: "I'd rather have too many than too few.'' ... Is it just me, or is it amusing that some people in the public think T.O. should shut up about Parcells but nobody thinks to wonder why Parcells doesn't shut up about T.O.?

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