posted on Sep, 5 2004 @ 11:53 AM
With the preseason finished and a few days left until the roster must be cut to 53 players, Dallas Cowboys coach Bill Parcells revealed several
Safety Darren Woodson will miss at least the first five games because he's healing slowly from back surgery.
Tony Romo will open the season as the backup quarterback, having beaten out Drew Henson.
Torrin Tucker likely will start the opener at right tackle and Pete Hunter at right cornerback.
As for running back?
Well, Parcells recognizes there's a lot of interest in whether Eddie George, rookie Julius Jones or even Richie Anderson trots out for the first play
of the season, but he doesn't plan on deciding until he gets to Minnesota for the opener. Parcells considers it a silly discussion because all three,
and possibly others, will get their share of carries.
"Who starts in the game seems to be of prime importance ... but I don't know why. It doesn't make any difference," Parcells said. "How we do it could
be from week to week a changeable thing."
Dallas hasn't truly taken the running-back-by-committee approach since Tony Dorsett and Herschel Walker split time in the late 1980s. Emmitt Smith was
the lead back for 13 years, then Troy Hambrick took over last season, but was not effective.
So the Cowboys got rid of him and made Jones their top pick. He appeared to be the first choice until George fell into Dallas' lap just before
training camp. Then it seemed as if the veteran would get the nod.
Neither stood out in the preseason. George gained just 51 yards on 24 carries, including a 23-yarder. Jones raised eyebrows by sitting out Thursday's
game against Kansas City because of sore ribs, although Parcells said Friday he was "not annoyed with him at all."
If the Cowboys were going to be a passing team, the running back rotation wouldn't be much of an issue. However, everyone in the organization
acknowledges their best chance for success is with a running game that grinds out yards and keeps the clock running.
"We'll see," Parcells said. "Don't make more of this than what it is right now, OK? You're slaying the wrong dragons."
The competition to be Vinny Testaverde's backup seemed to be settled Thursday night. Not only did Romo go in first, he went 12-for-14 and led Dallas
to 17 points on his three drives. Henson went 0-for-4 with an interception, barely holding the lead Romo earned.
Henson remains the quarterback of the future. It's just that Romo's experience of being with the team since last season makes him the better option
"Drew isn't as familiar with what we are doing," Parcells said, adding that Romo's strong performances the last three preseason games was a glimpse of
"what we have seen a little bit in practice over the last year or so."
Parcells also announced Friday that the roster was down to 63 players with Woodson going on the physically unable to perform list, rookie offensive
lineman Stephen Peterman going on injured reserve and kicker Matt Bryant, receiver Zuriel Smith and defensive lineman Ryan Wingrove being waived.
Woodson had a herniated disc removed from his back in late July. Six weeks later, he's still unable to lift heavy weights and isn't ready to
"It's not an easy decision, but I know it is in his best interest," Parcells said. "It's just getting his muscles back strength-wise. It's just not
quite firing exactly the way you need to play football."
The move forces Woodson to sit out six weeks, although that's only a five-game span for Dallas because of a bye. The Cowboys then have a five-week
window to activate him.
Peterman tore two knee ligaments while blocking for an extra point against the Chiefs. The third-round pick from LSU was expected to be a backup, but
instead will have surgery Tuesday.
Receiver Randal Williams also could be headed to injured reserve because of a non-displaced fracture in his right shoulder.