Monday P.M. Notebook

SAN ANTONIO – After a kicking exhibition, during which rookie Nick Folk outdueled incumbent Martin Gramatica, Folk was philosophical.

"The best man will probably get the job,'' Folk said.

Each competitor for the placekicking role that has been such a disaster in recent Cowboys seasons looked competent in a Monday afternoon practice that featured a complete focus on special-teams play.

Gramatica, who settled the Dallas' kicking situation with five games left in the 2006 season after Mike Vanderjagt made such a high-profile mess of it, attempted six kicks this afternoon and nailed them all. Folk was also six-of-six, but again seemed more capable of bombing ‘em from near 50 yards.

"I feel this is my job and I want to be here,'' said Gramatica, a seven-year veteran trying to fight off a guy Dallas deemed worthy of a sixth-round pick. "I don't mind the competition. I'm going to do whatever it takes.''

WHO'S HOT: Chris Canty. I guess Dallas has a pretty good deal going when recent Who's Hot honorees include the starting defensive ends Marcus Spears and Canty, who Wade Phillips described perfectly by using the word "disruptive.'' Spears has been getting it done by controlling the line of scrimmage in contact work against the run. Canty? "Disruptive,'' in most every facet.

WHO'S NOT: Jason Hatcher, who'd been doing solid work as a backup D-lineman, limped off the field during the afternoon session. Not good timing for a guy trying to earn snaps in the rotation.

QUOTABLE: Legendary 49ers coach Bill Walsh passed away today, at the age of 75, after a battle with leukemia. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said, "This is a tremendous loss for our league and for the entire sport of football. Bill was an innovator, a motivator and ultimately one of the most dynamic coaches in NFL history.''

Something most people don't know about the Cowboys and the 49ers, bitter rivals during the championship years of the ‘90's: Even while San Francisco owner Eddie DeBartolo and the Joneses were clashing, they were cooperating, collaborating, borrowing ideas from one another. Indeed, when Jones first became owner of the Cowboys, guess where he traveled to visit with an NFL head coach to ask for some guidance?

To San Francisco. To meet with Bill Walsh.

OFFBEAT BEAT: Michael Irvin's take on Michael Vick? Sympathetic.

"I've been there,'' Irvin said, "when you spend eight hours a day in a courtroom and people are talking about how you're the worst person in the world. I'm not condoning what he might've done. But to take the game from him, at this stage, I think people don't understand how it breaks him. … Football is what got him through everything. Football has always been the sanctuary.''

FISHELLANEOUS: The entire afternoon practice was essentially devoted to special teams. The Cowboys worked on almost every imaginable kicking situation. Necessary work, but not exactly scintillating to watch – especially for, say, the QBs, none of whom are very involved in teams. … One ‘teams' development of note: Terence Newman took a turn returning punts. … Conventional wisdom has it that Shawne Merriman (who ended up in San Diego playing for Wade Phillips) and DeMarcus Ware (who ended up in Dallas and now plays for Wade Phillips) were comparable players coming into their 2005 NFL Draft. Phillips now makes it official, recalling that he considered Ware and Merriman the top two defensive talents in that draft.

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