Company man

IRVING, Tex. - Head coach Wade Phillips raised a few eyebrows in one of his press conferences at the Cowboys' veterans mini-camp.

Veteran wide receiver Terry Glenn has refused to sign the injury settlement waiver the team has asked him to sign, which would reduce the team's financial obligation to the veteran wideout in case of a season-ending injury from $1.7 million to $500,000. Phillips was asked who would be the team's primary receiving option if anything should happen to Terrell Owens.

Phillips looked at the gathered throng of reporters and after labeling Patrick Crayton as a "plus" third receiver, he began showering praise on Sam Hurd and Miles Austin.

With a straight face, too.

Phillips immediately backed off, pointing out the obvious: Jason Witten is the No. 2 receiver in the Dallas offense, and the argument could be made that when it comes to consistency, he might be No. 1. But the Dallas coach also stuck to his guns, insisting that he'd feel comfortable relying on Austin and Hurd if any significant injury should befall Owens.

Cowboys' offensive coordinator Jason Garrett is widely viewed as one of the up-and-coming coaches in the NFL. (
It's not that anyone expected Phillips to rip his young backups, nor should he. But "backups" is exactly what Hurd and Austin are. They're big receivers with strength and speed who perform ably on special teams and can catch a pass if it's thrown right into their hands.

When asked about Phillips comments, head-coach-in-waiting (er … "offensive coordinator") Jason Garrett echoed Phillips' assessment, and presumably not just because Phillips is his boss.

"We were really pleased with both guys last year," Garrett said. "Offensively, we gave them a limited role, but when we gave them an assignment, they made plays for us."

Garrett acknowledged that Austin and Hurd should have more confidence this year, now that they have a year of experience in the new Garrett-designed offense.

"Of course — everyone's confidence should be up," Garrett said. "It's the second year with this offense. Everything's not new anymore."

More than anything, Garrett said, the offense needs balance.

"A second receiver isn't what we need the most," he said. "This offense needs balance. We need balance in the receiver position. We need balance between the run and the pass.

"We've got a marquee weapon in Terrell Owens. Now we need to put good weapons around him."

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