Depth Of The Matter

in 12-year veteran Aaron Glenn, who might be starting still for some other teams in the league. 

Singleton can't go, but back in early September, Parcells, worried silly about the lack of veteran depth at outside linebacker, makes the trade for Scott Fujita, a guy who had led the Chiefs in tackles the past two seasons made expendable by the draft. He will start his first game for the Cowboys Monday night. 

Patrick Crayton hasn't been able to go ever since overtime of the victory over the Giants, but the Cowboys had stockpiled Peerless Price, who continues to replace him as the third receiver and punt returner. 

Nguyen is out, Scott Shanle steps up. Jones is out, Marion Barber steps up. Adams is out, Torrin Tucker steps up, and the Cowboys have enough salary cap room to afford veterans Ethan Brooks and Marc Colombo just in case. Pile is iffy, the Cowboys still can afford to bring on a veteran such as Lynn Scott, and cover themselves, too, on special teams with most-recent pickup Quinton Caver. 

A whole bunch of next men up 

"Smart man, smart man," Glenn said when asked of Parcells seemingly making a concerted effort not to get caught with his pants down in as many places as he could. 

Unlike last year. Pete Hunter goes down, and the Cowboys desperately insert a litany of cornerbacks - Bruce Thornton, Jacques Reeves, Lance Frazier, Nate Jones, Tyrone Williams. 

Antonio Bryant goes haywire, and the Cowboys trade for Quincy Morgan, and are left with Randal Williams and rookies Terrance Copper and Patrick Crayton. 

"You know you have to have some backups who can help you," veteran receiver Keyshawn Johnson said. "Now we've got two or three guys . . . We know we got Peerless. We know if Henry can't go, we got Aaron. We got depth at positions we didn't have a year ago. 

"They made a concerted effort to create depth. We didn't have no depth last year." 

The Cowboys also created depth at a couple of positions from within. Instead of standing pat with veteran Anthony Thomas at backup running back, the Cowboys force-fed the rookies, Barber and Tyson Thompson. Now look. 

Instead of being content on the defensive line with the sturdy veterans, Parcells made a conscious decision to rotate those guys, no matter what. And now look, rookie Marcus Spears is starting, rookie Chris Canty plays as many plays, and sometimes more, than Greg Ellis, and even the team's seventh-round pick, Jay Ratliff, had been worked into the rotation until the ankle injury landed him on injured reserve. 

Now are the Cowboys covered at every positions? Absolutely not. They still hang out at quarterback. Backup Tony Romo still hasn't played in an NFL game in this his third season. Third guy Drew Henson still has only three quarters to his two-year credit. 

And those of you who want Parcells to let down his hair offensively, to sling the ball around against some of the league's better defenses, please consider life without Drew Bledsoe. Parcells and play-caller Sean Payton protect the 12-year veteran with plays calls as much as they do by lining up help for the two inexperienced tackles. 

So don't expect Parcells to stretch the field Monday night as he did Oct. 9 against the Eagles if the Cowboys don't again start five of their first seven possessions in the game at their own 49-yard line or beyond. That's simply buying insurance on your 20 when the blackjack dealer has an Ace showing. 

When asked of this upgraded depth, which will be tested mightily Monday night, Parcells said finding a third corner, even after bringing in Henry for a $10 million signing bonus, was most pressing. 

"I think we were looking pretty hard there at that position," Parcells said. "You know, last year about this time we were about on our fifth corner, fourth or fifth. We were trying not to get in that situation again. 

"If you had to pick two positions in the NFL that, where you just can't hide somebody, besides quarterback, corner would be one. It's just going to show up. If you are deficient there, it may not show up for a week or two, but you can only cover 'em up for so long and then they start to exploit everything else you are doing. And really, a lot of the laymen would

MICK SHOTS

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