Saturday Notebook: Anderson Multi-Tasking
DallasCowboys.com Staff Writer
July 31, 2004, 6:23 p.m. (PDT)
--Long before the addition of running back Eddie George, Cowboys head coach Bill Parcells had fullback Richie Anderson preparing to play halfback some this season.
George's arrival changes the complexion of the Cowboys' running game, but not enough to nix a plan that had been in the works since season's end.
"When we decided to do that, we didn't know we had George," Parcells said of Anderson, a natural fullback, after the first practice of training camp on Saturday. "I was looking for some veteran experience there to take some pressure of Julius (Jones)."
The Cowboys also didn't know they would have the depth at fullback they currently have, another reason they were prompted to try Anderson at halfback. With Darian Barnes and Lousaka Polite added to the mix to compete with Jamar Martin, Parcells wants the dust to settle at fullback before he permanently decides what to do with Anderson.
"He's working at halfback now, but he's going to know the fullback position because that's really what he played last year mostly," Parcells said. "Pretty much he's going to have know both positions, and mentally he can do that. I'm hoping that he's involved in our third down offense for sure."
Parcells has made no secret of his admiration for Anderson, acknowledging the 12-year fullback's hard work and mind for the game as reasons for his success. Whether Anderson is playing tailback or fullback when the season begins, Parcells clearly wants him on the field in some form or fashion.
"I think he can produce yardage for us," Parcells said. "I think if you look at just his performance last year, when we did give him the ball or put it in his hands, he did pretty well with it. How much we'll get to do that, I don't know."
New (Return) Man
Parcells refrained from using top-pick Terence Newman in the return game last year, but he said he is prepared to flirt with the possibility of using rookie Julius Jones on returns this year.
With the signing of George and availability of Anderson at running back, there are enough options at running back to give Parcells the flexibility to use Jones in the return game. He remained adamant, however, he would not use Newman on returns.
"I'm reluctant to use Newman because Newman is not a big kid," he said. "He's not thick. The guys that I've had that have been good returners are a little bit more lower center of gravity guys than Terence was."
Rookie corner Bruce Thornton is a player Parcells said he is interested in using as a punt returner, as is rookie receiver Patrick Crayton, among several other candidates.
"That'll be his way on though, if he can do it," Parcells said of Crayton.
Coleman Is Here, Too
Adding defensive end Marcellus Wiley to the defense was a move that highlighted the Cowboys' off-season, but Parcells thinks his defense might benefit from several other linemen as well.
"I would not count out Kenyon Coleman or Eric Ogbogu right now either in terms of being involved in that," Parcells said of the pass rush. "Kenyon Coleman, especially, has improved a lot this off-season."
Coleman worked hard in the off-season to improve his strength and overall conditioning, and is now among the strongest defensive linemen on the team.
"Or as the players call it, he's a strong dog," Parcells said.
The Washington Redskins made a big splash in the off-season when they brought Joe Gibbs back to the organization, a move that didn't go unnoticed by Parcells.
Maintaining a healthy respect and admiration for one another, Parcells and Gibbs used to speak somewhat regularly, but the two have not talked since Gibbs returned to Washington.
"I expect a lot of competition," Parcells said. "I think there's a lot of interest in the matchups in this division and there always have been. Probably, there always will be. I think now that it's a little deja vu with Joe and myself."
Jones Goes To Work
Putting on pads for the first time since drafted by the Cowboys, rookie running back Julius Jones had a productive first day of training camp.
"I thought he did alright," Parcells said. "I liked the way he looked as a matter of fact."
In goal-line drills, Jones was the lone runner to slip through the defensive line for a score, and he displayed the same burst and pass-catching ability he showed throughout mini camps.
Quarterback Quincy Carter
appeared to tweak his foot in the afternoon practice when dropping back to make a throw, but the fourth-year quarterback returned quickly without missing a snap. . . Receiver Randal Williams
struggled in the afternoon with several drops, drawing the wrath of receivers coach Todd Haley . . . Rookie quarterback Drew Henson
made a terrific downfield completion to running back ReShard Lee over linebacker Dexter Coakley, but struggled in team drills by throwing two passes directly into the dirt Parcells was seeing stars at practice this morning. Well, not literally, but he said associate athletic trainer Britt Brown
now looks like George Clooney with his new haircut, a nickname Brown is not likely to soon live down with the head coach . . . . And today's special situation practiced was running out the final seconds of a half or game when having to snap the ball. The quarterbacks took turns lofting deep passes far out of bounds to run the necessary time off the clock.