Changes are on the Way

Way back when, before dollars or seasons were discussed, Bill Parcells made it clear to Cowboys owner Jerry Jones that he wanted to be able to hire or fire assistant coaches. If not, there was no reason to be talking.

"He likes to surround himself with assistants he is comfortable with," said former Cowboys cornerback Everson Walls, who played under Parcells with the Giants in 1990. "He trusts his coaches that they will do things he thinks needs to be done to win games."

And while Jones agreed, stumbling blocks still exist for Parcells in assembling a staff he feels comfortable with in Dallas.

Parcells has spoken to Ray Perkins, an offensive coach from his Giants days. Also, Tom Coughlin, Parcells' receivers coach with the Giants from 1988-90, is available after being fired by the Jacksonville Jaguars on Monday.

Coughlin is a Parcells disciple, which means his Jaguars assistants are possible options for the Cowboys.

But most of Parcells' key assistants from his Giants, Patriots and Jets days, including Dan Henning and Maurice Carthon, are under contract elsewhere in the NFL.

A source close to Panthers coach John Fox said Fox would not be willing to let Henning out of his contract unless the offensive coordinator came to him and said he would be miserable staying. Carthon is under contract in Detroit, which looked to be ready to clean house, but the Lions announced Tuesday that they will bring their staff back for 2003.

One reason Parcells decided against coaching Tampa Bay last season, despite signing a contract, was his inability to assemble a coaching staff. He has said he doesn't anticipate that being a problem this time around.

Don't look for many, if any, current Cowboys assistants on his staff. A source close to Parcells said defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer is the only assistant Parcells is inclined to keep.

Offensive coordinator Bruce Coslet said Tuesday, while nothing is set in stone, he would be hesitant to coach anywhere except Dallas next season because of how hard it was to get everything up and running with the Cowboys.

Special teams coach Joe Avezzano also will not likely be looking for work. Avezzano said Tuesday he would rather stay in Dallas and coach the Desperadoes of the Arena Football League than move and coach in the NFL.

FREE-AGENT UPDATE
Tackle Flozell Adams could return under the right circumstances; tackle Solomon Page will not be back; defensive tackle Brandon Noble liked Dallas but money will determine his future home; defensive tackle Michael Myers will not be back; defensive end Peppi Zellner will not be back; tight end Mike Lucky not likely to be back, but will be moved to tackle if he does; wide receiver Darnay Scott is gone with offensive coordinator Bruce Coslet likely gone.

FEELING A DRAFT
The Cowboys' needs are running back, cornerback, defensive end, offensive linemen, linebackers and quarterback. Drafting Emmitt Smith's successor is a priority. The team likes Miami's Willis McGahee and Colorado's Chris Brown. But both have yet to declare for the draft. The team still needs a shutdown corner and pass rush specialist. However, rebuilding the offensive line is a huge priority. And now with Bill Parcells in at coach, they will likely draft so they can switch to the 3-4 in the future on defense. He likes big linebackers and the Cowboys have the undersized Dexter Coakley and Dat Nguyen leading the way. They will try to fix that in the draft.

MEDICAL WATCH
Ten players ended the season injured reserve: WR Anthony Lucas (knee) will not be back; S Darren Woodson (hernia) will return in time for the offseason program; FB Jamar Martin (knee) should be ready for training camp; TE Bob Slowikowski (knee) should be ready for minicamps in June; LB Jamal Brooks (leg) should be ready for offseason program in March; OT Larry Allen (ankle) will be ready to work in offseason program in March; WR Raghib Ismail (neck) wants to return but money will be a factor; TE Jeff Robinson (knee) will be back to serve as deep snapper and third tight end; OG Marques McFadden (shoulder) will be ready for minicamp but not likely to make the team; OG Dan Collins (knee) will be ready for minicamp but not likely to make the team.

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