News: Brand New Chad Peters article

Discussion in 'News Zone' started by Gooch, Jun 5, 2004.

  1. Gooch

    Gooch E-Dog

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    Center Rotation Excludes Returning Starter

    Chad Peters Staff Writer
    June 5, 2004, 6:53 p.m. (CDT)

    After starting 16 games at center last year for the Cowboys, fourth-year veteran Matt Lehr suddenly finds himself at a new position.

    "We're going to move Matt Lehr out of that position to guard, at least temporarily," head coach Bill Parcells said. "I know that Lehr is there, and I can always put him back (at center), but I'm going to play Lehr at guard this year."

    Lehr has played guard previously for the Cowboys, moving back and forth between guard and center during his brief professional career.

    Parcells knows what he has in Lehr at center, but is looking for improved play at the position this season.

    With Lehr back at guard, the Cowboys will instead go with a three-man rotation throughout the mini-camps and training camp at center, using Gennaro DiNapoli, Al Johnson and Tyson Walter until one of the players entrenches themselves in the starting role.

    Johnson, who suffered a season-ending knee injury during training camp last year, just days after being moved into the starting lineup, is healthy again and able to fully participate in all the drills.

    "I've been able to run on it and do everything I need to," Johnson said of his knee, which required unique microfracture surgery in August. "The only thing I can do now is practice and see how it feels. But I'm confident that I can come back (to full strength)."

    The injury has left Johnson's mind on more than just football.

    "I'm really not even worried about the playing time, or starting, or anything like that," Johnson said. "Right now, I'm just thinking about my knee and trying to get it back to 100 percent. It feels good right now, but you never know until you get out there and play on it for a while."

    DiNapoli, a seven-year veteran who signed with the Cowboys during training camp last summer after being released by the Tennessee Titans, had a chance to start a year ago but found the transition to his new team difficult to handle. While he never started, he did rotate the first seven games with Lehr, before his injury.

    "Last year was a difficult year, and then I got hurt," said DiNapoli, who was placed on injured reserve with a high ankle sprain on Oct. 29."It was probably the worst year I've had playing. This year I'm going to go into it full-steam ahead."

    DiNapoli is in better shape than he was a year ago after participating in the off-season conditioning program with the Cowboys this spring. He also said he has a much greater grasp of the offensive system now that he has a year of experience under this coaching staff.

    "It's leaps and bounds," DiNapoli said in reference to the difference between this year and last. "I don't think I came into camp in good shape last year and that always hurts. Things didn't work out with my former team and I was kind of depressed at the time. I have a whole new outlook now and am just really focused."

    Walter started eight games at center during his rookie season in 2002, but was moved to tackle and guard last year, where he received little playing time.

    "It's a new year and (Parcells) said at the end of last season after the playoff game that nothing stays the same," Walter said about his move back to center. "It's always nice to have an opportunity to get in there and show what you can do."

    An opportunity that Lehr, the returning starter at center, will likely not receive at the position.
  2. Juke99

    Juke99 ...Abbey someone

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    As usual, well done Mr Peters. :)

    I thought the rotation at center last year was very effective until DiNapoli went down. I am interested in seeing Johnson and DiNapoli this pre-season. Parcells has always made a the Center position a priority on his teams. That Johnson won the job so quickly last year, speaks volumes. Hopefully, he has made it all the way back physcially.
  3. Sarge

    Sarge Red, White and brew... Staff Member

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    Agreed - very well done!

  4. Nors

    Nors Benched

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    On occasion gets manhandled. I hope Al Johnson can make it back. We need better play on the Line. Encouraged to see Allen appearing to be in better shape.
  5. Juke99

    Juke99 ...Abbey someone

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    Do you always have to imitate me? :D

    What's up Sarge?

    This Peters kid is a hell of a writer.
  6. Sarge

    Sarge Red, White and brew... Staff Member

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    Hey Jukes. How ya feelin' there?

    Agreed - this Peters dude can write. Gonna be a great one.

  7. Juke99

    Juke99 ...Abbey someone

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    Doing fine, thanks.

    Mr Peters certainly isn't walking around down there wearing a piece of tape with his name written on it.

    OK, I think we sucked up to him enough now. :D
  8. big dog cowboy

    big dog cowboy THE BIG DOG Staff Member

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    Lehr belongs at OG. Johnson will return as our center. LA will man the other OG position. We should be much stronger in the middle this year. It will be especially interesting to see how much that improves our running game.

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