Vinny-Keyshawn: These two connect By Clarence E. Hill Jr. Star-Telegram Staff Writer OXNARD, Calif. - One day into the Cowboys' training camp, receiver Keyshawn Johnson walked off the field after catching passes from quarterback Vinny Testaverde and broke into a wide smile. "I don't know who is going to be the quarterback, but catching balls from him is like Christmas," Johnson said. Wednesday's stunning events -- starter Quincy Carter's release and Testaverde's promotion -- was a veritable Christmas in August to Johnson. Johnson was a huge supporter of Carter's, and says his absence will be an initial setback for the team. Yet, Johnson also can't deny his fondness for Testaverde as a quarterback, dating to their days together with the New York Jets in 1998-99. It was Testaverde who helped the "throw-me-the-damn ball" receiver reach his greatest heights in the NFL. Not coincidentally, Testaverde's first season with the Jets in 1998 became Johnson's first Pro Bowl season. He caught 83 passes for 1,131 yards and a career-high 10 touchdowns. It was supposed to be the beginning of a beautiful relationship. However, in the first game of the 1999 season, Testaverde suffered a season-ending injury. Johnson was traded to Tampa Bay before the 2000 season and didn't think he'd catch another pass from Testaverde. Of course, that was before the Cowboys acquired Johnson in a trade from Tampa Bay in March, reuniting him with coach Bill Parcells. Johnson immediately and eagerly anticipated Testaverde's arrival to back up Carter -- and it came in June after Testaverde's release by the Jets. Now Johnson says he ready to pick up with Testaverde where they left off in New York -- that is if they haven't already. "Vinny and I are working like clockwork," Johnson said with a smile. "And it's only going to get better." The good feelings are mutual. Testaverde gives the 6-foot-4, 212-pound Johnson most of the credit, saying it's easy throwing to a receiver with his size and ballhawking skills. "I think any time you have a guy that is willing to go after any ball you throw, whether it's high, low or over the middle, making the tough catches, always wanting the ball ... it's easy to throw to a guy like that," Testaverde said. "[In 1998] I just threw it where he could catch it. He made some great plays." It's well understood that Testaverde is going to be good for Johnson and veteran receiver Dedric Ward, who also played with Testaverde with the Jets. But conventional wisdom is that Testaverde is going to be good for all the receivers. As a dropback passer, he likely will hang in the pocket to the last minute in an attempt to throw the ball, rather than take off and run when the protection breaks down. Cowboys receiver Antonio Bryant said wideouts naturally prefer quarterbacks who like to pass over those who like to run. Conversely, Testaverde's knowledge of the game as a 17-year NFL veteran means he knows how to anticipate routes and when a covered receiver will break into the clear. "If these receivers here will let Vinny take them in, he will be their best ally," Parcells said. "That is the way he is. He is very giving. He works with them. He finds out what they like. "He finds out what they can do well. He likes to feed it to them." Parcells already likes what he is seeing. Before he could tell Bryant to make a connection with Testaverde, the third-year receiver proved to be one step ahead. "I know Vinny is already on Antonio," Parcells said. "And I told Antonio, 'You need to get to know this guy.' He already is. He has given me five things that he knows about him. He does this. He does that. This is the way his ball is. He is already learning about the guy." Bryant's first lesson was likely one of protection -- unless, that is, he likes perfect spirals stuck in his face mask. "I think you've got to get your hands up almost before you leave the line of scrimmage, because the ball gets there so fast," Bryant said. "He has a nice delivery, but he's also got a nice soft ball, too. It's not a vicious throw."