Answering The BILL Bill Parcells had plenty to say during Friday's opening training camp press conference. Nick Eatman DallasCowboys.com Staff Writer July 30, 2004, 6:23 p.m. (PDT) OXNARD, Calif. -- The start of training camp always includes a surplus of questions the team hopes to answer before the start of the regular season. For the Cowboys, and head coach Bill Parcells, who hasn't been very accessible for the last two months, the beginning of training camp here just north of LA posed many questions in need of answers. Since we last talked with Parcells, so much has happened, including his June incident, or "fight" as he called it, with wide receiver Antonio Bryant, along with the signing of Eddie George and the release of Chad Hutchinson and Willie Blade. So as the Cowboys kicked off the start of training camp with an opening press conference that also included owner Jerry Jones at this River Ridge complex where the Raiders once held camp, Parcells had plenty to say about the hot topics buzzing around Valley Ranch all summer. Parcells said Bryant will begin camp with a clean slate, and that the "jersey-throwing" incident is in the past. He said he's on board with the signing of George, which not only gives the team a bigger back, but take the pressure off of rookie running back Julius Jones. Parcells said he plans on giving all four quarterbacks equal repetitions, at least early in camp, and said linebackers Dexter Coakley and Bradie James will rotate working with first-team defense on a daily basis. Parcells addressed the releases of Chad Hutchinson and Willie Blade, who, for different reasons, didn't fit into the Cowboys' plans this year. And to think that was just a small dose of Parcells' hour-long press conference to really kick-off a training camp that shifts into high gear on Saturday with an opening ceremony and two practice sessions. But the big news centered on Bryant, who met with Parcells on Monday to discuss his future with the team. Parcells didn't get into details of the meeting, but did point out one fact that should indicate he heard what he wanted to hear from Bryant. "I think Antonio has a little better understanding of the way things need to be," Parcells said. "And that's what this thing is about, and nothing else. The fact of the matter is, he's here and I'm going to give him every chance to play." Parcells declined to answer just how close he was to releasing Bryant, but when asked if the receiver's talent was worth keeping around, he offered up a quick story that helped explain not only Parcells' history with these types of situations, but his current fondness of Bryant. "This is about the fourth or fifth fight that I've had with a player," said Parcells, who has had his share of verbal and physical run-ins with Hall-of-Fame linebacker Lawrence Taylor, arguably the best player he's ever coached. "This isn't my first bout with a player. And all the other guys I had a fight with called me on the phone, and one of the guys said to me, and I hope I'm not offending anyone here again, but one of the guys said to me, 'You must really like that S.O.B if you're wasting time fighting with him.' "And that's the best way I can put it. Some of the guys I used to fight with, I really liked, and were some of my best players." So Bryant will get to work with the rest of the receivers, likely to begin camp as the third-receiver behind veterans Keyshawn Johnson and Terry Glenn. He has survived that incident, but don't expect there to be any more second, or make that third chances to come his way. Moving on to the running back situation, and while it was reported that Parcells was not in favor of signing George and that Jones played the bigger role in landing the former Titans running back, the coach seemed rather positive when speaking of his newest veteran back. In fact, when talking about spending wisely this summer, and not dishing out loads of cash to free agents, Parcells said those frugal ways allowed the team to make such late-off-season moves as signing George. Also, he said the addition of George reminds him of similar moves he's made during his career, recalling signing veteran running backs Ottis Anderson (Giants) and Keith Byars (Patriots, Jets) late in their careers. "I've had a little success with veterans at this age," Parcells said. "Now, I've never been on the field with Eddie. But Mo (offensive coordinator Maurice Carthon) had him at the Pro Bowl one year and some of the players on this team that have played with Eddie in the past spoke very highly of him. And that 128 straight games without missing a game is impressive, particularly in light of the position he plays. "I think it's a good thing for our team. I think it's a good thing for Eddie and I also think it's a good thing for our young backs because it takes a little pressure off them." However, one of those young backs in particular is second-round pick Julius Jones, who still should get plenty of opportunities to prove himself, despite the signing of George. In fact, while Parcells said he wasn't sure how the snaps would be divided among the running backs, he did say he has a distinct philosophy for handling rookie running backs. "Yes, throw'em to the wolves," Parcells said. "I mean that. Put them in there and get them in on preseason games early, and just give them the ball. See how he reacts. The first preseason game Curtis Martin ever played in the NFL, 20 years old, we got the opening kickoff and gave it to him eight straight times." And since things worked out just fine for Martin, who has rushed for 11,669 career yards, don't expect Parcells to treat Jones any differently, especially since he has George for a fallback plan just in case. Also, don't ready much into the possibility of George not getting a whole lot of work in August. Parcells said he told the 30-year-old George to be ready for September. There will, though, be meaningful rotations going on at several other positions, including quarterback and linebacker. Quincy Carter, a 16-game starter in 2003, should begin camp as the No. 1 quarterback, but Parcells said he plans to use three quarterbacks for each practice while rotating who sits out as the fourth. Now as the preseason games draw closer, Parcells might not stick with that plan, but for now, that means Carter, Vinny Testaverde, Drew Henson and Tony Romo should all get somewhat equal practice reps. "I haven't decided what I'm going to do in the preseason games," Parcells said of the quarterbacks. "I know I'm not going to play four quarterbacks in one game, unless I have to. We'll just try to do it the best we can, and see who is where and who's what. They're not in shorts anymore, so you can get a better picture quick." And at linebacker, Parcells said he plans to continue his summer-long evaluation of second-year pro Bradie James, planning to rotate him with Dexter Coakley on a daily basis at weak side linebacker with the first-team defense. Coakley, a three-time Pro Bowler, will work with the second-team every other day, but it's unlikely the seven-year veteran will give up his starting duties. If the Cowboys find out James can contribute this year, he or Coakley could end up moving to the strong side, currently filled by Al Singleton. But at least these guys are around to compete. Can't say that for Hutchinson or Blade, the former released as expected and the latter surprisingly released after starting 15 games for the Cowboys last year. But then this was the second time the Cowboys have released Blade, falling by the wayside in 2002 for a lack of conditioning, and evidently regressing once against this summer. And so much so Blade, claimed by the Giants 24 hours after the Cowboys released him, was released by the Giants on Friday after he struggled to complete his first practice with Tom Coughlin and the Giants. As for Hutchinson, Parcells said he has no hard feelings, but it was clear he wasn't able to compete with the current group of Cowboys quarterbacks. "Hey, I like the kid, I really do," Parcells said. "It just didn't work out. He didn't play as well (in NFL Europe) and we had to do something. It was really just a numbers game. We certainly couldn't have five quarterbacks. It's even hard to have four. It was just one of those things." And one of many things Parcells will have to continue dealing with during this three-week stay here in California, not to mention over the next two weeks in Dallas before the regular season begins when the decisions really get tough. But for now Parcells has answered this round of questions. Now let practice begin so he can answer the rest before the regular season begins. Friday's BILL-Board (7/30) Sarah Piland DallasCowboys.com Staff Writer July 30, 2004, 5:22 p.m. (PDT) OXNARD, Calif. -- The day before the first practice here at training camp, Cowboys head coach Bill Parcells met with the media to discuss his expectations for the next three weeks. Here are some highlights of his press conference Friday: How do you think a veteran like Eddie George is going to fit in with the Dallas Cowboys this year? PARCELLS: I've had a little luck with a couple of veterans about this age - O.J. Anderson, Keith Byars - guys like that. Now I haven't ever been on the field with Eddie, but my offensive coordinator, Maurice Carthon, had Eddie at the Pro Bowl a few years back. Some of the players that are on this team that have played with Eddie in the past spoke very highly to me about him, and to Jerry, about what kind of guy he was. That 128-straight games, without missing a game, certainly is impressive. Particularly in light of the position he plays. This gives us a guy, 238 pounds, and I think it's going to be a good thing for our team, and I think it's going to be a good thing for Eddie. I also think it's going to be a good thing for our young backs because I think it takes a little pressure off of them in that we have two veterans, Richie Anderson and Eddie George who have proven that they can play. But as I've told the veterans, no matter who you are, at some point in time during this camp, you've got to show me you can still do it. So he'd be in that group. But hopefully he'll be a good, solid addition to our team. Does this year's team have a lot more talent than last year? How much better do you expect this team to be? PARCELLS: I don't really know. Each year's a new year and you never really know if the things you put together on paper are gonna result in better operation. What I will say is what I told the team this morning, as opposed to a couple other teams in this division now, we have two off-season programs and a full season and a playoff game invested in this process. So we're somewhere down the road on where we're trying to go. I know for a fact, at this point in time, now I don't know what's gonna happen physically here as we go to camp, but I think at this point in time we have appreciatively more competition at each position. We've talked about that during the course of the off-season, trying to structure our team so that it does have competition on it. And we have appreciatively more competition at almost every position. The one position now, with Darren [Woodson] being on PUP [physically unable to perform] for awhile, is the safety position where we don't have a lot of experience. We have two basic players here with Tony Dixon and Roy Williams, and Lynn Scott who has basically been a special teams person. So, we're obviously concerned with that and we'll see where we go when Darren's situation clears up a little bit. But other than that position, I think there's a lot more competition including quarterback, receiver, tight end, offensive line, defensive line, linebacker - I just think there's more. When it comes to rookie running backs, do you have a particular philosophy about getting a rookie started? PARCELLS: Yes. Throw 'em to the wolves. I mean that. Put him in there, put him in the pre-season games and just give him the ball and see how he reacts. First preseason game, Curtis Martin, ever played in his life in the NFL, 20-years-old - we got the opening kickoff and gave it to him eight straight times. Does Vinny Testeverde have the chance to be a 16-game starter this season? PARCELLS: I would say with Vinny and Eddie [George] and Marcellus [Wiley] and all of these veteran guys, Vinny I have, of course, for the second time so I'll be able to figure him out a little quicker than the other two, but I'm just looking to see what there is left. I know the person and the person�. Here's his deal, you ready? This is his deal the whole spring. He's in his basement, in his gym, at 7:30 in the morning, lifting weights. He does that for two hours, daily. Okay? He then goes upstairs and has breakfast. Then he leaves, and goes to the field, and throws 60 passes, and does his running. Then he comes home and has lunch and spends the rest of the day with his wife and kids and playing golf or whatever he does. That's what he does. So he's got about a four-and-a-half hour regimen everyday that he does. Now, the average person wouldn't know that, but I know that because I know what he does. And that's what's allowed him to stay in this league at his age and to be a physical phenomenon - it really is. He's a powerful man and it's because he works very hard at it. But now, where that takes him, I don't know. All I know is that he gives himself a chance. I was kidding him, I said, 'I'm gonna call you (Mike)Tyson because you're just like Tyson, you're both out of excuses now.' And so Tyson's fighting tonight (Friday) and I kinda wish him well. And I hope Vinny does well too. Through the off-season and mini-camps, how confident are you that Quincy Carter has made the improvements you asked him to make at the end of last season? PARCELLS: I'm not confident at all. I don't know. The interception thing we obviously have to cut down on, that's obviously the main thing. The mechanical things that I wanted him to do, throwing better on the run and a couple things, I think he'll do that. But I can't tell you how he's gonna respond to the pressure of the game situation until I see him do it. Now, experience-wise and knowing our offense and knowing the coaching staff - he's down the road too because he's had two off-seasons of hard training and a full season of experience and he went the whole year without being hurt. So that's good for him. So I expect him to be better, but how confident I am? I don't know because it's a pressure thing, it's how they deal with the pressure of the situation that counts.