News: Clarence E. Hill Jr.:Red-zone improvement is crucial

Discussion in 'News Zone' started by Cbz40, Sep 14, 2004.

  1. Cbz40

    Cbz40 The Grand Poobah

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    Posted on Tue, Sep. 14, 2004

    Cowboys Notes

    Red-zone improvement is crucial

    By Clarence E. Hill Jr.

    Star-Telegram Staff Writer

    IRVING - Just for the record, Cowboys quarterback Vinny Testaverde, 40, feels fine one day after throwing 50 passes in a game for the first time since 2000.

    He iced his arm a bit, but physically he is "just fine."

    Mentally, however, Testaverde, much like the Cowboys' offense, remains a work in progress after Sunday's 35-17 loss to Minnesota.

    Starting on opening day was "like riding a bike" to the 18-year veteran.

    "Any time you go to a new team and it's opening day, you want to prove to your teammates that you are capable of playing well and gaining their confidence in you," said Testaverde, who served as a backup with the New York Jets the past two years.

    Testaverde completed 29 of 50 passes for 355 yards, including a 32-yard touchdown pass to Terry Glenn.

    However, Testaverde said the bottom line is that the Cowboys lost. He said he and the offense need to be better, especially in the red zone (inside an opponents' 20-yard line).

    The offense scored one touchdown in four trips inside the red zone. They had a fumble, a field goal and an aborted field goal because of a botched snap to go along with ReShard Lee's 7-yard touchdown run.

    "Our main emphasis wasn't to throw it 50 times," Testaverde said. "It was to control the time of possession. We didn't live up to our end of the bargain. We need to score more points in the red zone."

    Johnson not happy

    Much like Testaverde, receiver Keyshawn Johnson takes no solace in his own impressive opening performance.

    Johnson, playing for the first time since being deactivated by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with six games to go in 2003, looked like the go-to receiver the Cowboys have been searching for since Michael Irvin retired in 2000.

    He not only led the Cowboys with nine catches for 111 yards, but proved to be a physical force with several tough catches over the middle and as a blocker in the running game.

    "I have been doing the same thing since I have been in the league. This is no miracle game," Johnson said. "Now losing, that is a tough pill for me to swallow."

    Injury updates on hold

    Coach Bill Parcells plans to wait until Wednesday to give an official injury assessment on guard Andre Gurode, center/guard Tyson Walter and running back Richie Anderson.

    All three suffered knee injuries against the Vikings and underwent magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) exams Monday. Parcells said early indications are that the injuries aren't as serious as originally thought.

    Gurode will probably be hard-pressed to play against Cleveland on Sunday. The Cowboys feared after last week's game that he might be out for awhile with significant damage to his medial collateral ligament.

    The Cowboys are unsure of their lineup against the Browns. Matt Lehr would start at guard if Gurode or Walter is available. Rookie guard Ben Noll, who joined the team two weeks ago as a waiver-wire pickup from the St. Louis Rams, would be the primary backup.

    Anderson factor

    Bill Parcells said he gave Richie Anderson, the 12-year veteran, too much work Sunday, which probably contributed to Anderson's lost fumble late in the game, and maybe to the knee injury.

    Anderson, the team's nickel running back, played much of the second half as the Cowboys tried to get back in the game with the pass offense. He carried six times for 10 yards and caught four passes for 31 yards.

    "Richie has fumbled on occasion in the past," Parcells said. "He has to do a better job taking care of the ball, but he was in the game too much yesterday."

    In hindsight, Parcells said he should have used running back ReShard Lee to spell Anderson in the second half. Lee had a 62-yard kickoff return and then four consecutive carries, culminating with a seven-yard touchdown run in the third quarter. Lee didn't return to the game until after Anderson was injured in the fourth quarter.

    Clarence E. Hill Jr., (817) 390-7760

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