Get Ready For Some . . . Practice

coverage. 

That is why you saw so many of those Kurt Warner completions over the middle, with the safeties basically playing in a two-deep zone - including the lone touchdown of the game when Warner appeared to throw behind the inside receiver, yet hit the outside receiver Fitzgerald, who made a spectacular reaching, diving catch in front of Keith Davis. 

"He was throwing inside and threw a bad ball, and Larry made a great catch," Davis said. "I hate to be around when something like that happens." 

Third, it was highly important for the Cardinals to make a splash in this game. When you only distribute 35,000 tickets for a preseason game, and when a first-time season-ticket buyer can walk up and buy two on the 20-yard line about 15 rows up, you had better make good impressions before the home folk. 

And in fairness to the Cowboys, this night wasn't all bad. Been telling you about rookie running back Tyson Thompson. The Cards could not calculate his speed to the outside. He turned the corner for most of his 64 yards on 10 carries as if he was running the curve on the 200. 

Tom Crowder, supposedly a wide receiver, but really a special teams player, made two great special teams plays - one covering a kick while getting blocked from behind and the other blocking a Scott Player punt by somehow reaching out one-handed on a play that smartly, thanks to Player, resulted in a safety instead of the Cowboys possibly gaining possession at the Arizona five. 

The Cowboys run defense was surprising solid for the first time playing a 3-4 defense fulltime in a game. And that was without nose tackle Jason Ferguson and rookie defensive end Marcus Spears. 

And really, the Cowboys' biggest worry over implementing the 3-4, the standup outside linebackers, did not get overpowered in the running game. They - Ware, Al Singleton, Kevin Burnett and Kalen Thornton - did a nice job of protecting the perimeter and turning plays inside for the pursuing middle guys to clean up. 

Jason Witten picked up where he left off from last year's Pro Bowl season. Linebackers couldn't run with him and safeties couldn't muscle up with him. 

And you know what? One of the biggest worries heading into preseason just had to be the backup quarterbacks since neither really has much or any NFL experience. But Tony Romo was really efficient, and Drew Henson might have had his best performance since training camp began. He mostly was accurate and it sure seemed as if he had some renewed zip on the ball. 

Plus, Henson was one play away from pulling out this game in the final minute. That darn Calvin Pace didn't bite on the play-action, reverse boot with the Cowboys at the Arizona 30. Henson turned, and ran right into Pace, losing nine yards. Had Pace not been there, he might have run for a touchdown. 

And let's not bemoan Billy Cundiff missing at the end from 53 yards. Please. He did hit from 47, and account for six of the Cowboys' 11 points. 

But if you just must wring your hands over something from this game, then I give you permission to do so over right tackle. Not good. Rookie Rob Petitti got the start. As appeared in training camp practices, he's not ready for this - yet. 

And Parcells' frustration with Jacob Rogers' apparent inability to stay healthy - and on the field - was the reason Petitti was starting anyway. So then what happens? 

Rogers, playing with the second team at right tackle, apparently sprained his medial collateral knee ligament during his first series of plays. That means he missed a practice on Tuesday to have his shoulder examined and missed more than half a game with a knee injury. 

Plus, when you couple that with missing most of the off-season work following shoulder surgery, and not getting on the field last year for more than a couple of special teams plays thanks to a bruised calf and then that problematic shoulder, Parcells now will really question his dependability. 

And if all that were not bad enough, last year's 13-game starter at right tackle Torrin Tucker almost certainly played himself right off this team, more than duplicating his shabby scrimmage performance from a week ago. If he was not holding, he was getting beat. 

"We'll play as

MICK SHOTS

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