2003 NFL Preview

Bill's will

Parcells passionate as ever as he begins Dallas makeover

Posted: Tuesday July 29, 2003 4:57 PM

  Peter King

This is the fourth in a series of postcards Peter King will e-mail from his annual NFL training camp tour.

Monday, July 28

Team: Dallas Cowboys

In San Antonio, one of the more interesting cities on the training camp tour. It's a good walking city, with friendly people, including the bicycle cop who let me slide when I parked illegally outside the Starbucks two blocks from the Alamodome this morning. The Cowboys stay in one of the Riverwalk hotels and either bus or bike the half-mile to the facility. Most of the practices are held there, but today's morning session took place at the San Antonio School District Spring Sports Complex. What a setting for high school sports. The complex is in a working-class neighborhood on the south side of town, has softball and baseball stadia to die for, and boasts a grass practice field that would be the envy of any NFL team come November. Bill Parcells loved the place.

1. Interesting that Parcells hasn't flooded the roster with old standbys. Richie Anderson's here, as well as Ryan Young (both are former Jets). Those two and Terry Glenn (New England) are the only current Cowboys (of the 83 players in camp) who formerly played for Parcells. I bet the one guy he'll wish he had come midseason is Vinny Testaverde.

2. Filip Filipovic. Does anyone in the NFL have a better name than the Cowboys punter?

3. Unless Zuriel Smith makes the team, no. Or Reshard Lee. Or Ken-Yon Rambo, though he has a sort of been-there, done-that name.

The Dallas Morning News reports that third-year linebacker Jamal Brooks brought six five-inch African Emperor scorpions to training camp with him. "My wife didn't want to be left alone with them," Brooks said. "They glow in the dark." Brooks' next animal-acquisition goal: a piranha.

Wide receiver Randal Williams, a big (6-foot-3, 220 pounds) and speedy (4.35) drink of water. I realize I'm probably over-writing the receiver prospects, but in the two practices I saw, this guys really stood out. Excellent deep speed, good hands, very strong on special teams. He has a heck of a chance to make the the Cowboys roster as the last wideout plus special-teams gunner. Plus, he's from the Bronx, speaks Spanish fluently and went to college at University of New Hampshire. I don't know why all that matters, but Williams is an interesting guy.

"My dad passed away early in my life,'' he told me, "and the Bronx was a tough place to grow up. My mom tried to shield us from it. We read a lot.''

Mom, judging from the 10 minutes I spent with your son, you did one heck of a job. And in case Randal's not telling you much from camp, I want you to know that Coach Parcells really likes him.

1. I think there cannot be a bigger man in the NFL than Flozell Adams, who is listed at 6-foot-7, 357 pounds. He's just so darn wide. I talked to the offensive lineman for 20 minutes Monday, and I swear it's one of the first times I've felt overwhelmed by the size of a football player. His shoulders are as broad as any human's I've ever seen.

2. I think Troy Hambrick looks like a load at running back. If he stays healthy and manages his weight, he'll start the opener. Hambrick wanted to weigh 250 coming in. Parcells told him to weigh 239. He reported at 238.

3. I think the first question everyone -- and I mean everyone -- here asked me when they'd heard I'd been in Flagstaff was: "How'd Emmitt look?'' Weird preseason opener: Parcells at Emmitt, Aug. 9, 7 p.m., in the desert, 103 degrees at kickoff.

4. I think assistant Bruce DeHaven will do such a good job on special teams that the Cowboys won't miss Joe Avezzano, who's now coaching full-time in the Arena League. DeHaven's a great special teams coach.

5. I think Parcells is falling for the tough and NFL-ready second-round center from Wisconsin, Al Johnson. My money's on him to start the opening game.

Again I seek the holy grail of training camp lunches. Again I am disappointed.

Entree: Sliced pork loin in its own gravy, with long-grain wild rice. I'm a big rice fan, and the rice was fine. I liked the pork, don't get me wrong. It was good alternative to the sandwiches of recent days. But the pork wasn't tender. Pork should be tender, shouldn't it? I mean, is it too much for a man getting a free meal to ask for tender pork? Come on! Grade: B.

Vegetables: A squash-carrot medley. On the surface, this should have tasted delicious. But I didn't eat the medley on a good enough surface, I guess. The carrots were way undercooked (and I'm fine with steamed carrots, but at least let them get heated beyond raw), the squash tasteless. The salad, however (a variety of lettuce, cherry tomatoes, cukes, with ranch) raised the grade above failing. Grade: D.

Beverage: Deja Blue, which I believe is a Texas water. To be honest, I have no recollection of the taste, only the temperature. Cold. Grade: B-plus.

Dessert: Cheesecake. Very nice. Not too heavy. The highlight of the meal. Grade: A-minus.

Overall grade: B-minus. But I really appreciated the hospitality.

Bill Parcells is everywhere. Roving, teaching, watching. Lots of watching. At the start of the afternoon practice inside the Alamodome, Parcells ambled from group to group, often not saying anything, just watching. He also has confidants Ron Wolf, Tom Coughlin and Chuck Fairbanks here to observe different position groups and and give him input at the staff's nightly 6 o'clock meeting.

I'm sure Parcells has decided some things, such as these:

  • Adams and Larry Allen are locks on the offensive line.

  • There will be a three-man rotation of Antonio Bryant (Parcells really likes this guy, all you fantasy nerds out there), Glenn (excited and feeling reborn) and Joey Galloway at receiver.

  • La'Roi Glover will play the rush defensive tackle spot.

  • Darren Woodson and Roy Williams are the safeties, with Woodson playing the strong. Parcells says he's still uncertain about who will start at every position, but in reality only 15 or 16 are still open, including quarterback.

    Tuesday, Quincy Carter looked better to me than Chad Hutchinson, particularly in throwing the deep ball. My guess is Hutchinson starts Opening Day, but that's just a guess.

    And after being away from the sidelines for two seasons, Parcells is his back to his old self. When he thought his offensive linemen were shuffling a little too slowly Monday, he barked: "I bet you guys would move faster if we put some butterscotch sundaes out there.'' We talked for a couple of minutes after his press conference. He's excited about his beloved Red Sox. He's not missing the freedom of summer or being at the race track right now. As Jerry Jones told me: "One thing that's really impressed is how much Bill really loves what he's doing. You can tell from being with him that the passion for this job hasn't been diminished.''

    I said last spring I thought Parcells would give Jones three years. I'm sticking with that prediction now, but it wouldn't surprise me if the coach stayed for the full four years of his contract.

    Check back soon for more of Peter King's Postcards from Camp.

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