Carter's Confidence Soaring Nick Eatman DallasCowboys.com Staff Writer July 31, 2004, 5:23 p.m. (PDT) OXNARD, Calif. -- The coach says he doesn't believe in incumbents, and that every player must compete for his starting job. The player said there isn't much of a competition for his starting job, and that he already considers himself the starter. A clash on the horizon? Or simply a different way of thinking between Bill Parcells and Quincy Carter? One day after the head coach reiterated his stance on the starting quarterback situation, stating all four quarterbacks will get equal snaps in the early part of training camp, last year's starter Quincy Carter said he considers himself the starter once again, and that it's his job to lose. In a way, both are correct. Sure, Parcells stands by his guns, insisting all players must rightfully earn their starting status, and do so every year despite their age, experience or pedigree. And for Carter, who began the first training camp practice Saturday working with the first-team offense, he is accurate in that he begins camp as the starter, a position he won - again - during last year's training camp and did go on to start all 16 games. As the fourth-year quarterback gets ready for another season, he recognizes the team has added depth at quarterback with Vinny Testaverde and Drew Henson, both acquired this off-season. But when it comes to competing, Carter doesn't seem too worried by the recent additions. "I wouldn't say it's an open competition," Carter said after Saturday's practice. "Matter of fact, I know it's not an open competition. I'm clearly the starter right now. What we've done is bring competition to my position like we've done in other positions. This football team knows who their starter is and I'm going to stand firm on that. I'm their leader and I'll do everything I can to be their best quarterback "So no, it's not an open competition." Of course, Carter's strong message was relayed to Parcells Saturday during his regular press conference, and the coach didn't budge from his competitive view at quarterback, but allowed Carter should have a "leg up" on the rest of the quarterbacks based on his experience in the offense and having started all 16 games a year ago. And knowing Parcells, it's unlikely he has problems with his quarterback exuding a high level of confidence. "Obviously, he should feel more confident," Parcells said of Carter. "He has more experience and knowledge of the offense and his coaching staff. I don't see how he can be anything but more confident, just based on the osmotic process, if nothing else. He's just been through it. So I'm looking for him to play up from last year." If Carter wins the starting job once again, he could start his fourth consecutive regular-season opener, dating back to his rookie season in 2001. He would be only the fifth Cowboys quarterback to turn that trick. While a pair of injuries sidelined him for eight games that rookie year, Carter's biggest struggles occurred in 2002, after the team signed Chad Hutchinson in the off-season. While Carter started the first seven games (3-4), he was benched in Week Eight, in favor of Hutchinson, and never played another snap that year. Despite Parcells arriving last year and giving Carter another shot, which he took advantage of to win the job back from Hutchinson in training camp, Carter said he's grown up from two years ago, and won't be looking over his shoulder again. "It's the same situation as two years ago when they brought Chad in here," Carter said of Hutchinson, who was released by the Cowboys on Tuesday. "But I'm more confident now in what I'm doing. I'm confident in my leadership ability. I know this team can go as far as we want to, as long we put our minds to it and not let things distract us. "I'm standing firm on the position that I hold, and I hope we can end (the so-called competition) early, so we don't keep this talk going. I know this team can't get caught up into that. I'm confident that I'm the leader, and I'm not looking behind anymore, like I did two years ago." Parcells gave Carter a list in the off-season of areas he wanted Carter to improve on by the start of training camp and the regular season. Some were physical changes, others had to do with his play, but so important the head coach laminated the paper for posterity sake. "I told Quincy I wanted him to put on three or four pounds of muscle," Parcells said. "He was 215 last year but he weighed in here at 219. So he did that. It doesn't sound like a lot. But I sure don't want the guy I first met that was 223 and sort of pudgy. That was him when I first met. I got him down and now I'm trying to get him back up. So I think that's good. But other than that, it's just anything that a normal coach would tell his quarterback." Some of those other areas include Carter cutting down his interceptions. He threw 21 picks last year to just 17 touchdowns. Parcells also said he wants to see Carter make better throws on the run. "Everybody thinks he moves well, which he does," Parcells said. "But he didn't throw as well on the move as I wanted him to, so that's something we talked about. I don't have a list of 15 things for the kid. It's just three or four. Just a few things for him to work on, and he's done that." Carter also said Parcells had him watching much more film this summer. There probably aren't many players during the season watching more tape than Carter. But with a few new teams on the schedule, Carter spent more time than usual during the off-season observing opponents the Cowboys aren't as familiar with. "He wanted me to watch some new opponents this year," Carter said. "We're playing the AFC Central with Cincinnati and Baltimore and those guys. We've got to go up to Green Bay and Minnesota. He wanted me to work on my cadence this year a little more and work on drawing the defense offside a little more. "So I've done a lot of homework this summer, and that's why it's so important to come out here and work hard every day. I think the sky is the limit for this football team and, like I said, my confidence is as high as it's ever been." Now Carter just has to make sure Parcells' confidence in him doesn't waver.