Hambrick Not Necessarily #1

The hole Emmitt Smith left behind Thursday is as big as the one the Cowboys' offensive line used to open for him. For the first time in 13 years, since they drafted Smith with the 17th pick, the Cowboys are in search of a running back.

"It feels empty," Cowboys vice president Stephen Jones said. The NFL's all-time leading rusher gained 17,162 yards for the Cowboys. The four backs on their roster -- Troy Hambrick, Michael Wiley, Woody Dantzler and Ennis Haywood -- have a combined 1,427 career rushing yards.

Hambrick could be the Cowboys' opening-day starter, but the team isn't ready to anoint him yet.

They are keeping their options open, Jones said, including free agency and the draft. "Obviously, we'll look," Jones said. "We're going to keep our eyes open for somebody that can make us better. Whether it's to complement Troy or somebody to compete with Troy and Michael, that remains to be seen. We'll just have to continue to do our work and see."

Hambrick has had a productive career with the Cowboys in limited action, but there is concern about whether or not he would be able to shoulder the load through a 16-game season.

Bill Parcells has been rumored to be interested in former Redskins' running back Stephen Davis, yet formal talks between the two sides have yet to take place.

If the Cowboys don't elect to sign a free agent rusher, there are several late first round to late second round draft picks that should be available for the taking.

Parcells has always adored "big" backs, just like he's had in the past with Curtis Martin (Patriots and Jets) and Otis Anderson (Giants). Virginia Tech's Lee Suggs, Georgia's Musa Smith, and Southern Cal's Justin Fargas are three of the possible candidates that figure to be in the mix.

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