at South Florida. Played it about 80 percent of the time, he said. The Cowboys were teaching him during the coverage drills how to play off, meaning giving receivers room to get off the line of scrimmage. In other words, a free release. So there was new-old secondary coach Dave Campo instructing him on the intricacies of backing off about five yards . . . Not sure how this will turn out, but these two guys already seem to be an upgrade over departed free agents Jacques Reeves (Houston) and Nate Jones (Miami). Plus, with their speed and athletic ability, the Cowboys just might have found two dangerous gunners on the punt coverage team. Not sure about you, but I'd rather defensive guys running down field to make tackles instead of a bunch of wide receivers . . . .
This might sound a tad junior high-ish, but quarterbacks coach Wade Wilson likes to tell his young guys to rehearse calling plays. He figures if the quarterback can repeat his lines with confidence, then the 10 guys in the huddle listening to him will in turn have confidence in what's being called working. "I tell them to go to the hotel room and said it out loud to yourself," Wilson said of needing to sound authoritative in the huddle. "Get to your room and practice calling the play." . . . You heard Emmitt Smith stopped by on Sunday morning, but not sure you heard how Emmitt insisted he became a proponent of the two-back system later in his career. Ha! Like heck. Maybe the last year or so, but I can remember when his backup was in the game you could see Emmitt between plays creeping off the sideline all time. He couldn't wait to get back into the game, and you know what, sometimes he didn't . . . Emmitt also had an opinion on Adam Jones, saying, "If he's not getting arrested I'm OK" with him. But the one refrain we seem to be getting from veteran players, and echoed out here by Emmitt was this: Adam Jones can have all the great influences or guidance in the world around him, "You can be with the guy and in his ear 24 hours a day, but at the end of the day you can't be there the whole time." Meaning, A.J.'s got to make better decisions when the decision time comes . . . .
How's this from Cowboys owner Jerry Jones on the thoughts of having Jason Witten and Bennett on the field at the same time: "Visions of sugar plums come to mind." . . .
Familiarity does breed complacency, because while Emmitt Smith coming out to practice on Sunday didn't seem to be a big deal to those of us who saw him play his entire career, it was a big deal to guys who were like 9 or 10 years old when the NFL's all-time leading rusher was winning a Super Bowl XXVIII MVP award. "All I could say to him," Choice said of when Emmitt waltzed out on to the field to give the backs a few points, "was, 'I'm Tashard Choice.' He said he already knew that." . . .
Who does Felix Jones remind Wade Phillips of when he runs with the ball? "He runs a lot like Thurman Thomas did," the head coach said, and if the results are similar, that would be fine, too, since Thomas just was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame this past year. 'He runs with his feet close to the ground . . . and he sees people." Something it seemed like this past year the other Jones here running the ball simply didn't . . . Sixth-round draft choice Erik Walden said his turf toe on the right foot that basically bothered him all year finally healed in the off-season. Said he played the first four games this past season, then missed two and played the final six without the ability to push off with his right foot. That's a problem when you are playing right defensive end . . . And here is a good answer from Bennett, who's been tabbed as being self-assured and a tad out-spoken, when asked about becoming a second-round pick and being here at The Ranch now: "It's still a tryout, an audition and you've got to prove yourself." Atta boy. . .
That about empties out the notebook, so let's close here on Marcus Dixon, the rookie defensive end from Hampton whose well-told story of serving time in prison while in high school will become even more well known I'm guessing once HBO's Hard Knocks returns to camp this summer to document the Cowboys' training camp, which should be announced on Wednesday. Nice kid. Well mannered. Offers to