Anyone interested in playing offense will put Testaverde's safety first by Jean-Jacques Taylor OXNARD, Calif. – The Cowboys' offense will change with Vinny Testaverde at quarterback. It must. Testaverde is a powerful 40-year-old with legendary strength, if you listen to enough yarns about his workout regimen spun by coach Bill Parcells. But that does not mean you can expect him to withstand the rigors of a 16-game regular season, especially in an era when defensive coaches invent exotic blitzes on a weekly basis. And if Testaverde can't play, Tony Romo or Drew Henson will take his place under center. Neither has played in an NFL game. Now you know why Dallas will put a premium on protecting Testaverde. Parcells has always emphasized pass protection. He will take it to another level this season. During the regular season, the Cowboys spend at least one 10-minute segment of practice each day working on pass protection against the blitz. Parcells wants his quarterbacks and offensive linemen so confident the team can handle the blitz that they get excited when they sense it's coming. "Quite naturally, the offensive line is going to have to block well," offensive coordinator Maurice Carthon said. "But you also have to give a guy like Vinny a good running game to take the pressure off him. Vinny has always done well with a good running game." The Cowboys will also add a bevy of screen passes, draw plays and play-action passes. Those plays require defenses to respect the run before transitioning to a pass rush, which should reduce their ability to pressure Testaverde. Parcells and Carthon will even use tight ends in pass protection. Or two running backs. Or a running back and a tight end. Carthon will also use pass routes with only two receivers, if that's what it takes to protect the quarterback. That's what Carthon did as Detroit's offensive coordinator in 2002, when he wanted to ensure rookie quarterback Joey Harrington wouldn't become gun shy. The Lions often used maximum protections. Harrington was sacked eight times in 429 pass attempts. Quincy Carter was sacked 37 times last season for 185 yards in losses. In 2002, Cowboys quarterbacks were sacked 54 times for 399 yards in losses. Some of that can be attributed to former quarterback Chad Hutchinson's lack of pocket presence and elusiveness. Parcells said Testaverde's strength makes him difficult to sack. Arm tackles aren't enough. "Quincy could improvise a little more than Vinny can," he said. "Vinny is pretty hard to sack because, even when you try to tackle him, he's so strong, sometimes you can't get him down. If you don't get a good shot at him, he's so powerful he can just throw you off."