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4 DALLAS Cowboys
Peter King
August 28, 2000
With another big gun having hung 'em up, Jerry Jones's old gang is reloading for what might be its last shot at glory
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August 28, 2000

4 Dallas Cowboys

With another big gun having hung 'em up, Jerry Jones's old gang is reloading for what might be its last shot at glory

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PROJECTED LINEUP
WITH 1999 STATISTICS

Coach: Dave Campo
First season with Cowboys (0-0 in NFL)

Offensive Backs

QB

Troy Aikman

36*

442 att.

263 comp.

59.5%

2,964 yds.

17 TDs

12 int.

81.1 rtg.

RB

Emmitt Smith

14*

329 att.

1,397 yds.

4.2 avg.

27 rec.

119 yds.

4.4 avg.

13 TDs

RB

Chris Warren

201*

99 att.

403 yds.

4.1 avg.

34 rec.

224 yds.

6.6 avg.

2 TDs

FB

Robert Thomas

300*

8 att.

35 yds.

4.4 avg.

10 rec.

64 yds.

6.4 avg.

0 TDs

Receivers, Specialists, Offensive Linemen

WR

Joey Galloway#

35*

22 rec.

335 yds.

1 TD

WR

Raghib Ismail

70*

80 rec.

1,097 yds.

6 TDs

WR

James McKnight?

249*

21 rec.

346 yds.

2 TDs

TE

David LaFleur

140*

35 rec.

322 yds.

7 TDs

K

Tim Seder? (R)#

268*

22/24 XPs

14/19 FGs

64 pts.

PR

Jason Tucker

226*

4 ret.

13.0 avg.

0 TDs

KR

Jason Tucker

226*

22 ret.

27.9 avg.

0 TDs

LT

Flozell Adams

6'7"

335 lbs.

16 games

16 starts

LG

Larry Allen

6'3"

326 lbs.

11 games

11 starts

C

Mark Stepnoski

6'2"

265 lbs.

15 games

15 starts

RG

Solomon Page

6'4"

321 lbs.

14 games

6 starts

RT

Erik Williams

6'6"

311 lbs.

14 games

14 starts

Defense

LE

Ebenezer Ekuban

23 tackles

2� sacks

LT

Alonzo Spellman

16 tackles

5 sacks

RT

Chad Hennings

61 tackles

5 sacks

RE

Greg Ellis

42 tackles

7� sacks

OLB

Joe Bowden#

51 tackles

3� sacks

MLB

Dat Nguyen

42 tackles

1 sack

OLB

Dexter Coakley

86 tackles

4 int.

CB

Ryan McNeil

81 tackles

0 int.

SS

Darren Woodson

76 tackles

2 int.

FS

George Teague

74 tackles

3 int.

CB

Kareem Larrimore (R)#

32 tackles

5 int.

P

Barry Cantrell�

39 punts

41.1 avg.

#New acquisition
(R) Rookie (statistics tor final college year)
*: Player Value Ranking (explanation on page 139)
?'98 stats
?'97 college stats
�'99 NFL Europe stats

When they were winning three Super Bowls in the mid-1990s, the Cowboys had a high-powered offense that relied on a strong running game but featured a controlled passing attack. Wide receiver Michael Irvin roamed the middle of the field and ran intermediate sideline routes while tight end Jay Novacek moved the chains by making great catches in traffic.

Dallas has never found an adequate replacement for Novacek, who retired four years ago, and now it will have to make do without the feisty Irvin, who retired in July because of cervical stenosis, a narrowing of the spinal column. In an attempt to regain their aerial glory, the Cowboys have assembled a track team in wideouts Rocket Ismail, James McKnight and newly acquired Joey Galloway—all of whom run sub-4.4 in the 40. With those three stretching the defense, and tight ends David LaFleur and Jackie Harris going underneath, Dallas is hoping to make one more Super Bowl run with 31-year-old Emmitt Smith carrying the ball and 33-year-old Troy Aikman at quarterback.

Whatever success the Cowboys have this year hinges on the answers to several questions, among them: Can the 5'11", 188-pound Galloway, who cost Dallas two first-round draft picks in a February trade with Seattle, keep secondaries honest by making the tough catches over the middle, which he's never been asked to do in nine seasons of college and pro ball?

"I don't want to go underneath every play, but I look forward to the challenge of proving I can do it," says Galloway. "There's nothing that says I only run deep routes, and it isn't right to say that because we have three speed guys, we're going to be running deep routes on every play."

Dallas owner Jerry Jones liked the Galloway deal when he made it. He loves it now. "I've only done this twice—laid out real serious money [to acquire] a star," says Jones, who immediately signed the 28-year-old receiver to a seven-year, $42 million contract. "First with Deion Sanders, now with Joey. I thought speed would help us more than a possession receiver would. I knew that to draft a potential impact player to help our offense, we'd have had to trade up in the draft this year by using next year's top pick. That wasn't enough currency to move up for Peter Warrick. The advice I got on Joey was to go get him. Deion told me, 'He's the only guy in the league I can't cover.' Joey was the one player I'd have done this for."

It's clear the Cowboys are playing for today. The vestiges of their greatness are disappearing one by one—witness the retirements of Irvin and fullback Daryl Johnston, the release of Sanders and the imminent retirement of cornerback Kevin Smith. Into this breach steps Campo, who despite the team's salary-cap problems made sirloin out of ground chuck in his five years as the club's defensive coordinator. Dallas finished in the top 10 in total defense four times over that span. Campo has already taken one of Jones's high-risk pickups and turned him into a solid contributor: Last season defensive tackle Alonzo Spell-man, out of the game for a year after being diagnosed with bipolar disorder, became a regular while earning the minimum NFL wage; now he's a dependable starter with a multiyear contract. This year Campo will probably have another troubled defensive lineman, former Vikings first-round draft choice Dimitrius Underwood, who is also being treated for bipolar disorder, in the rotation. "Our front four," says Campo, "will be the best it's been since the early '90s."

Then there's rookie cornerback Kareem Larrimore, a fourth-round draft pick out of West Texas A&M, who has been so spectacular in camp that he has been penciled in as a starter. (Of course Smith's retirement and second-round pick Dwayne Goodrich's hamstring injury haven't hurt Larrimore's chances.) The reason he fell so far in the draft? He tested positive for a banned substance (widely reported to be marijuana) at the scouting combine.

There is, of course, the little matter of the Redskins standing between the Cowboys and NFC East supremacy. This is probably the first time in nine years that Dallas hasn't been considered at least a slight favorite to win the division. "I like being the underdog," says Jones. "I like our quarterback better than [the Redskins']. I like our running back better. I like our receivers. I think the strength of our team is on the defensive line. I like how we match up with them."

The outcome of the two regular-season dates with the Skins—Sept. 18 in Washington and Dec. 10 in Dallas—could depend on how Galloway, the little man with the great burst of speed, performs. "Talk about excited," he says. "I love it here. I love the pressure. Last year, when I was holding out in Seattle, I used to go on-line and read all the negative stuff in the Seattle papers about me. Now people say I can't go over the middle, can't do this, can't do that. It gets my juices flowing."

[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]

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