Corner Of Real Concern

who missed a good portion of training camp and the first two preseason games with a hamstring strain. Phillips thinks he'll be able to take a look at Butler Thursday night in more than Thursday's special teams role.

But, boy, that would be a leap of faith to think a guy who hasn't played all preseason, was but a practice squad guy last year and wasn't even drafted, would be ready to become the fulltime third corner.

Then again, there were guys in the locker last year insisting he was one of the best man cover guys on the team.

But that's what the Cowboys are dealing with on the corner right now behind Newman and starting right corner Anthony Henry.

Now this might be somewhat of an overreaction since as Phillips said, "Everybody needs corners . . . the old cliché you never have enough corners." And I'm guessing you're thinking, well, just go trade for one.

Again, corners are somewhat like quarterbacks. They just don't grow on trees, meaning there usually isn't a surplus - also meaning, if there is, no one is just giving those guys away. And, as far as I can see, the Cowboys don't exactly have a surplus anywhere to throw some bait out there.

What to do, what to do?

First of all, please understand there are things the trainers and doctors can do to help Newman through this injury and allow him to play on Sundays without further jeopardizing his condition. And yes, that includes numbing the area of pain on game day or receiving a cortisone shot to speed up the recovery. Not sure what seems worse, the pain caused by the injured plantar fascia or taking a needle in the bottom of your foot.

Also understand, and this might be splitting hairs, Newman doesn't have plantar fasciitis; he has an acute injury to the tissue - small tear - although the residual effect amounts to the same: A pain in the (heel).

But the last thing you want, as Phillips pointed out, is to have your corner who is capable of playing man against any receiver in the league not on the field, because as the head coach explained, "any time a corner can play man-to-man . . . it gives your defense versatility."

He means the safety that might be helping him can do something else. He means the linebacker dropping into the flat, cutting off a slant, can go nose around in someone else's business.

Yet, if you don't have that guy, then you compensate. And as Phillips suggested, if the Cowboys have what they have and don't have Newman on the field, they will game plan for their opponent differently. Meaning, they probably wouldn't leave the 5-9 Glenn in man coverage on the corner with a 6-3 receiver (Andre Johnson). Meaning they wouldn't be asking Joey Thomas to play so much man, but probably zone more. Same if it were Reeves or Ball on the corner.

So in a way, what took place Saturday night in Houston was a good thing. Not only did those corners get some exposure, the coaches got a better idea of what they might or might not expect from them. Same goes for this Thursday night against the Vikings.

"The regular season now, if you get an Andre Johnson out there and some of the corners we were playing, we probably would have doubled (him)," Phillips said. "We'll have to get a game plan to help somebody out there if they need help, and if they don't, like Newman, then we'll put the pressure on him to do well."

The Cowboys pray they aren't out there the night of Sept. 9 asking, Where's Newman? So are you.

But if they are, they'd sure like someone to step up . . . now. And for that, they might at least genuflect a time or three in the coming days for good measure.

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