Rogers makes good first impression
Parcells likes what he sees so far from Oxnard offensive lineman
Rob Varela , Star staff
Oxnard's Jacob Rogers, left, works on his blocking technique with fellow Cowboy lineman Torrin Tucker on Sunday.
By Derry Eads, deads@VenturaCountyStar.com
August 2, 2004
Jacob Rogers has caught the eye of Bill Parcells.
Rogers, the Dallas Cowboys' 2004 second-round draft pick out of USC, has gone about his business learning the ropes of a new position.
For the first two days at the Dallas preseason camp -- located less than two miles from Oxnard High, his alma mater -- Rogers has begun the transition from left tackle to right tackle on the Cowboys' offensive line.
Parcells, the Cowboys' legendary coach hired two years ago to restore the franchise's place among the NFL's elite, has seen a parade of young offensive linemen the likes of Rogers enter his camps.
"I've looked at him very closely," said Parcells on Sunday.
"I have had 50 of these guys. Sometimes you draft them high and there is something that doesn't allow them to be successful. There are others that you draft low, but they have got those intangibles to make it work.
"More so than any other position, offensive linemen have to be of a certain mentality. They must be willing to work out, lift weights, be non-descript, subordinate their egos. They've got to be willing to slug it out.
"I think that he (Rogers) is a little bit like that."
Rogers, wearing braces protecting both knees, appeared to hold his own in Sunday morning's contact drills before a large crowd, including a group of family and friends, that sat in bleachers nearly the length of the field.
Rogers and tailback Julius Jones are among a number of first-year players jockeying for positions.
So are offseason additions veterans Keyshawn Johnson, Eddie George and Vinny Testaverde.
Parcells believes the Cowboys are close to having the right blend of young players and seasoned veterans.
"We have the right kind of veterans," said Parcells. "They work hard, do their job and are pretty professional about it. That is always good. The young players have to fall in line."
George, who was released by the Tennessee Titans in a cost-cutting move, is battling Jones for the starting tailback position.
"I have seen enough of Eddie George to tell that there is some good tread left in him," said Parcells.
The nine-year veteran has more on his mind than where he ranks on the Cowboys' depth chart.
"I am just trying to understand what '37 Slash' is and where I am supposed to go," said George. "I am concentrating on being a Dallas Cowboy and helping this team win."
Unlike George, Johnson and Testaverde have ties to Parcells with the New York Jets.
Johnson, acquired in a trade with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, needs "to go through the processes" to regain his past form, said Parcells.
"He didn't play a lot of football last year," said Parcells. "He needs to refamiliarize himself with the offense. He is one of those guys who is not going to be at the top of his game unless he practices and catches a lot of passes.
"We ask him to do a lot of things in our offense. There is that mental thing on him, too."
Just what role Testaverde, three months short of his 41st birthday, will play has yet to be determined.
Testaverde reunited with his old coach with the promise that he would be given every chance to win the starting position.
"Who he (Parcells) names is not in my control," said Testaverde. "What is in my control is how well that I play. Parcells expects everyone to play at a consistent and high level.
"He treats everybody differently, but he treats everyone fairly. That is what I like about him.
"I try to be a better quarterback everyday. If that is good to get on the field of play, that's great. If it's not, I'll continue to support Quincy (Carter) or whoever is out there."
Except for terminology, the Cowboys' offense is similar to the one used by the 1998 Jets, when Testaverde passed for 3,256 yards and 29 TDs.
"It's about 35 percent the same,"said Testaverde.
What hasn't changed about Testaverde, according to Parcells, is his ability to throw the ball deep.
How long will Testaverde continue to maintain that arm strength, Parcells was asked.
"Until the day before he dies," joked Parcells.