Same Old Ellis?

It's the off-season, so you know linebacker Greg Ellis must be upset about something.

Those were the words uttered by fellow linebacker Bradie James when asked about his teammate's absence from OTA practices May 28.

Ellis gave no official excuse, and the Cowboys are sticking by the company mantra that the workouts are voluntary.

But everyone knows better.

Ellis, coming off the best season of his career, is unhappy with how the Cowboys plan to use him next season.

The Cowboys plan to use Ellis a pass-rush specialist while using linebacker Anthony Spencer on first and second down.

The Cowboys want to get the most out of all of their players while extending Ellis' career.

Ellis, however, again believes the Cowboys are trying to replace him.

He is due base salaries of $3.3 million in 2008 and $4.1 million in 2009, and he believes the Cowboys' increased use of Spencer means that he is on his way out to save the team money.

Owner Jerry Jones said there is no connection at all.

"I don't know anything about the football stuff or what they are trying to do with Greg," Jones said. "It's voluntary."

Spencer said he didn't know anything about Ellis being upset or about a possible change in the starting lineup. He just knows the Cowboys plan on using him more.

"They are talking about more playing time but we will see when the season starts," Spencer said.

For Ellis, it's a merry go round of paranoia -- whether real or imagined -- that has been going on the past four years.

He asked to be traded or cut when the Cowboys switched from the 4-3 to the 3-4 defense because he was too small to play end in the 3-4.

He then asked to be traded or released when the Cowboys moved him from end to linebacker.

And then last season he saw the drafting of Spencer in the first round when he was coming off of Achilles tendon surgery as a sign they were going to phase him out. Ellis said he wanted a new contract, proving the Cowboys were committed to him, or he wanted to be cut or traded. He even threatened to retire.

Of course, Ellis is coming off the best season of his career, with 12.5 sacks, being named to the Pro Bowl for the first time and receiving the NFL comeback player of the year award.

Certainly, the Cowboys have the right to do what they want to put the best team on the field.

But it's understandable for Ellis to wonder aloud about the team's motives. He is coming off a great season and entered the off-season looking to build on it only to find out that the team is trying to take his starting job away.

PLAYER NOTES
--SS Roy Williams is back practicing with the team after missing last week's workouts because of a family vacation. Williams, however, remains under fire inside and outside the Cowboys' locker room for his poor play last season.

Here is what cornerback Terence Newman had to say on local television last Sunday: "The funny thing is, coming (off) his rookie year, I think he had five picks and showed he could cover. He's the same guy; I just think sometimes he gets a deer-in-the-headlights type of reaction to some plays, just gets caught ... I definitely don't think he's a liability. Everybody's got something to work on. You can never be at a point where you can feel comfortable with what you're doing on the football field."

On Wednesday, Newman found himself defending his comments but not backing down.

"I think every DB in the league has looked like a deer in the headlights," Newman said. "It wasn't like I said during the whole season Roy was looking like he was a deer in the headlights. I said at times, which it happens. I stick behind it. It's not like it was something bad."

--WR Terry Glenn says he is healthy after missing 15 games last season. The Cowboys say he's healthy as well. But they want to ensure themselves by asking Glenn to sign a $500,000 waiver in case he suffers a season-ending injury. Glenn has refused to sign the waiver and has been held out of the team's OTA practices because of it.

--DE Chris Canty has yet to sign his restricted free-agent tender of $2.017 million.

He wants a long-term deal to give him some security like the one fellow restricted free-agent running back Marion Barber got. Canty is not letting it keep him away from workouts. He has participated in all of team's off-season activities and will just wait his turn for a new deal.

--FS Ken Hamlin remains absent from the Cowboys' OTA workouts because of a contract dispute. Hamlin, an unrestricted free agent, has been given the franchise tag by the Cowboys and a one-year contract offer of $4.396 million. He wants a long-term deal and will stay away from all voluntary workouts. It remains to be seen if Hamlin will show up for training camp.

--The Cowboys are partnering with the Dallas Mavericks in a bid for a future NBA All-Star Game to be played in the team's new $1.1 billion stadium being built in Arlington. The Cowboys hope to land a game as soon as 2010. The new stadium opens in 2009. The Cowboys plan to seat 100,000 for the all-star game.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "The more the merrier. I haven't seen him play offense. I don't know how much he's played throughout his career. Obviously he has some return skills, so anytime you can get a guy the ball who can make plays, he's going to help." -- Cowboys receiver Terrell Owens on the possibility of cornerback Pacman Jones playing offense.

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