Camp Notes: Visit From Another Cowboys Great

"After that I was going to take everybody out," Watkins said. "It's all love. Everybody knows we're not out here to hurt each other, but we've got to play football. Sometimes tempers flare over."

Position: Linebacker Height/Weight: 6-1, 245
Age: 23
College: Oregon
NFL Exp: Rookie
How Acquired: FA for '07
Hometown: Oakland, Calif.

Fitting In: Phillips himself admits the only way he will make the cut is as a member of the special teams unit. He's playing behind Bradie James and Bobby Carpenter in the inside linebacker corps.
So Far: Phillips has been refining his techniques with the help of Cowboys coaches. He said little things like hand placement and the size of the steps he takes are making a big difference in the way he plays. It's showing on the field as Phillips is working with the second-team defense on goal line plays.
Best Asset: Tackling. Coaches are seeing the skills that made Phillips a force while he was at Oregon. He has been getting to the carrier quicker during camp and using his abilities to make solo tackles.
You Should Know: Phillips blocked Oklahoma's potential-game-winning field goal against the Ducks to preserve Oregon's controversial Sept. 16, 2006 win over the Sooners, 34-33.
A Mouthful: "Unless something happens and one of them suddenly disappears, my thing is going to be special teams." - Phillips on how he will make the team. Mark Norris

Return Auditions

Phillips used both Monday sessions to audition possible punt returners, and third-year wide receiver Jerheme Urban made a strong case to become another healthy option alongside incumbents Terence Newman and Patrick Crayton.

Urban split time with cornerback Nate Jones during the morning practices receiving punts from Mat McBriar. Afterwards at the morning press conference, Phillips said Urban did a "pretty good job" catching the ball. In the afternoon practice, only Urban was back to receive punts.

In recent days Phillips said he would prefer new options emerge at returner so he would not have to use starters Terence Newman and Patrick Crayton during preseason games. The two original choices at the return spot are out with injuries. Jamaica Rector has a sore knee and Quincy Butler is out with a pulled leg muscle.

Phillips did say he would consider using Newman during regular season games if needed.

Coaching Assignments

The Cowboys have spent the first two weeks of training camp trying to figure out where and which players will line up for Thursday's preseason opener.

But Phillips said he's already decided where the coaches will be.

"We did that in the off-season," Phillips said. "We're set up as to who's where."

Phillips said coordinators Jason Garrett and Brian Stewart will be on the field, where he always wanted to be in his years as a defensive coordinator.

"Well, (for the) two-minute situation No. 1, because two minutes before the half if you're going to get down at halftime, at a lot of stadiums you have to leave early and somebody's got to call it for the last two minutes, and I think that's pretty important," Phillips said. "And I've always liked to look (the players) in the eye (on) something good or especially if something bad happens, see how they respond, help them try to respond the right way, encourage them in certain situations and get on them in certain other situations."

However, Phillips said he uses the preseason to help assign his coaches, just like he'll do for his players.

"We may adjust," Phillips said. "That's what's preseason is for, for the coaches too, to see where we want everybody and how efficient we are. We've got it all set up. We've got a bunch of coaches, some of them down, some of them up."

--Nick Eatman

Still Injured

While the biggest injury news of the day involved Owens and his back spasms that held him out of practice again, the Cowboys have a few other injury concerns. While 11 players missed the morning practice, that number went down to nine in the afternoon after tackles Marc Colombo and Flozell Adams were allowed back into practice. Since both are coming off knee scopes, chances are they will continue to work only once a day.

But the Cowboys remain shorthanded at receiver, with Owens, Glenn (knee), Jamaica Rector (knee) and Isaiah Stanback (shin splints) all held out of practice.

The Cowboys list Owens and Rector as day-to-day, and the same goes for cornerback Quincy Butler (pulled muscle), defensive end Jason Hatcher (hamstring), linebacker Greg Ellis (heel) and running back Alonzo Coleman (ankle).

And if that's not enough, two starters fought through sickness on Monday. Terence Newman and Andre Gurode, limited in the morning practice, were able to practice participate in team drills during the afternoon despite flu-like symptoms.

--Nick Eatman

Short Shots

The Cowboys had some familiar faces on the practice field Monday, including former head coach Barry Switzer, who has been at camp the last two days . . . San Antonio native Red McCombs, former owner of the Minnesota Vikings, attended the afternoon practice and even gave quarterback Brad Johnson, a long-time Viking, a hug during the team's stretching drills . . . The Cowboys conducted their final two-a-day practice during their 16-day stay at the Alamodome. They will have just one practice Tuesday and walk-though practice on Wednesday before breaking camp later that day, heading home for Thursday's preseason game against the Colts at Texas Stadium.

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