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News: DCW: Camp Notes (Chad Peters)

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    LaTunaNostra He Made the Difference

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    Camp Notes

    By Chad Peters



    OXNARD, Calif. - Not resting on their defensive laurels from a year ago, when the unit finished No. One in the league, the Cowboys opened camp by adding to their defensive bag of tricks.

    The Cowboys have been experimenting with the 3-4 defense, hoping to find personnel that would give them the flexibility of showing various defensive looks throughout the season.

    "This is a good time of year to try some things," coach Bill Parcells says. "We used an odd-man front last year some, especially in the Nickel. That probably won the Philadelphia game for us here in Dallas."

    While they will stick with the 4-3 as their base defense, switching looks provides opposing offenses more to worry about. The Cowboys don't necessarily have to line up four linebackers on the field to make the scheme, either. They have been tinkering with defensive end Eric Ogbogu and rookie linebacker Kalen Thornton, a converted defensive end, at outside linebacker in the 3-4.

    "We're not exactly 100 percent suited to do it, but we have enough linemen to play it," Parcells says. "I think we can be OK at linebacker without a lot of depth. We'll just see how it goes. If we're not set up to do it, we won't do it."

    If they are able to move a player like Ogbogu around, the Cowboys can disguise a lot of their defensive looks when he is on the field.

    Implementing the 3-4 doesn't represent a huge philosophical change for the Cowboys, as they experimented similarly last summer by using Kevin DeRonde as an outside linebacker in the scheme.

    Anderson Bringing More Versatility

    Fullback Richie Anderson brought a lot of versatility last season to the fullback position, but is expected to bring even more to the entire backfield this season.

    Long before the addition of running back Eddie George, Parcells had fullback Richie Anderson preparing to play tailback some this season. And Parcells isn't about to nix the plan now.

    "When we decided to do that, we didn't know we had George," Parcells says of Anderson, a natural fullback. "I was looking for some veteran experience there to take some pressure off 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 says. "Pretty much he's going to have to 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 his admiration for Anderson no secret, acknowledging the 12-year fullback's hard work and mind for the game as reasons for his success. Whether Anderson is playing halfback or fullback when the season begins, Parcells clearly wants him on the field in some fashion or another.

    "I think he can produce yardage for us," Parcells says. "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."

    Stewart Receiving High Praise

    The sudden release of Willie Blade, last year's starting defensive tackle, left a big opportunity for several Cowboys' defensive linemen, including an improved Daleroy Stewart.

    "There's a guy I have some hopes for right there," Parcells says. "I really am pretty confident in that player."

    Stewart took Pro Bowl defensive tackle La'Roi Glover's spot on the first-team defense recently in part of Parcells' regular rotation of players. While he won't start in place of Glover once the season starts, he can still contribute a lot to the defense considering Parcells' emphasis on rotating linemen during games.

    "I like it because nobody knows who he is," Parcells says. "Really, nobody knows it, but he's going to be pretty good I think."

    Parcells' Kind of Coach


    When defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer had an opportunity to become head coach at the University of Nebraska, Parcells knew he couldn't tell Zimmer to pass on a prestigious coaching opportunity like that.

    "Both Jerry and I had mixed feelings about it because we're thinking about the Cowboys, but you can't hold a guy back from that," Parcells said. "I think that we kind of told him to take a look at it, and if that's what you think you want to do, we'll understand that. But know also that we like you here."

    Parcells cautioned Zimmer he had to decide whether he wanted to be a professional coach or a college coach. Had he taken the Nebraska job, it could have hurt his chances to eventually become a head coach in the NFL.

    Parcells proved his admiration for Zimmer by telling the defensive coordinator he was welcome on his staff as long as he was coaching the Cowboys.

    New Man On Offense?


    Second-year corner Terence Newman has been getting in some work with the offense after practice, running routes with receivers to possibly set up an appearance on offense sometime this season.

    Parcells would not comment on the matter, but his silence spoke volumes.

    Overheard

    "Well, he got his butt kicked this morning in case you saw it. That's probably a good thing, that'll bring him back out of pretty boy status." - Bill Parcells on second-year tight end Jason Witten after being flattened by a defensive player in a run-blocking drill.

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