Zimmer still has to plug player into nickel slot
Newman, Mitchell, Hunter are candidates for the position
09:24 PM CDT on Thursday, August 26, 2004
By JEAN-JACQUES TAYLOR / The Dallas Morning News
IRVING – Cowboys defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer can't decide whether to use Terence Newman, Donald Mitchell or Pete Hunter in the slot in the nickel defense.
Coach Bill Parcells told Zimmer to follow his intuition.
"I told Mike, 'Do what you think is right, let's go with it and I'll support you. Let's make it work, and if it doesn't work, we'll change. Don't worry about me second-guessing you,' " Parcells said. "He's trying to decide a certain thing he wants to do, and once he pulls the trigger, he wants to go with it."
If the Cowboys use Newman in the slot, then Hunter and Jemeel Powell could play outside. That would allow the Cowboys to double-cover the outside receivers.
If the Cowboys use Mitchell in the slot, then they could provide safety help for Hunter.
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If the Cowboys use Hunter in the slot, then Powell would probably play outside and get safety help.
The slot corner is an especially important position on the Cowboys' defense because this unit doesn't record many sacks or force many turnovers.
It must win third down and force teams to punt.
Parcells likes the idea of having Newman in the slot because he's a physical player, who would play well against the run.
Teams often like to run the ball from three-receiver formations because most teams replace a linebacker with a cornerback.
No matter what Zimmer chooses, Parcells said nothing is sacred.
"Nobody made a rule we couldn't change our mind," said Parcells, "and so we will if we have to."
Defensive line decisions: The Cowboys will probably use a rotation of Marcellus Wiley and Kenyon Coleman at left defensive end.
Defensive end Greg Ellis will play on the right side, though Eric Ogbogu will replace him in some pass-rushing situations.
"I want to use Coleman in the mix," Bill Parcells said. "Whoever plays with Coleman isn't going to get to play as much as the other guy. My guess is I'll use Wiley and Coleman together and that will be a two-headed deal.
The Cowboys want a bigger, stronger player such as Coleman on the left side because most teams run to that side behind their tight end.
Eaton's status: Just because the Cowboys signed veteran defensive tackle Chad Eaton doesn't mean he'll make the team.
He's about 12 pounds overweight, which isn't significant. But he also had four surgical procedures performed on his knee last year after the first one led to an infection.
Bill Parcells wants to see if he can still be a solid tackle. If veterans with five years or more of experience are on the roster the first week, their salaries are guaranteed, so there's a chance Dallas will cut him and add him to the roster after Week 1.
Briefly: Kurt Vollers is practicing at right tackle, though he has spent all of training camp at left tackle. ... The Cowboys might keep seven linebackers because of their work on special teams and the 3-4 defense.