Getting To Know Peterman

have known this or forgotten it, too. It's not just been his knee, right? Peterman had surgery right after the 2005 season to remove some bone spurs from his ankle. 

And, least you forgot this, too, remember he broke his finger in camp last year, but managed to play through that without missing any time. Could you just imagine, missing training camp practice with a mere broken finger under Bill Parcells' watch? 

"I think I'm better, definitely stronger now," Peterman said. "The knee is strong." 

That is good, because as we all know, Parcells is a stickler for guys proving themselves by at least their third year. And if not, as he pointed out that one day a few years back, "Pfffttt," making a sound as if to suggest the door should not hit you on the way out. 

Health willing, this should be the first time since suffering that knee injury his rookie summer that Peterman legitimately has a chance to prove his worth, as he was that summer of 2004, really starting to come on before suffering the injury. 

And as I understand, he's quite a worker, and has worked hard to give himself a chance once camp begins in another month. (Month, is it really that close?) 

Tony Sparano will be watching closely. 

"Always been a physical thing," the offensive line coach said of the 6-4, 323-pound former All-SEC guard. "He's in great shape. He just has to be right all the time. Losing his rookie season hurt him. He lost all the fundamentals he developed during training camp. And then, after the surgery, he was a little more top heavy. 

"But Peterman is one of the strongest guys we have. A critical year for him." 

When Sparano says Peterman "just has to be right all the time," he means he is not big enough nor powerful enough to make up for faulty fundamentals. His footwork and handwork must be flawless. No false movements. No assignment errors. 

He's a plugger, so needs to be healthy to be able to outwork his opponent. Plus, will need to outwork his closest competition for a roster spot, and that would include Andre Gurode, who is considered a backup guard battling Al Johnson for the starting center spot; second-year lineman Cory Procter; first-year guard Shannon Snell and first-year lineman Matt Tarullo, who spent last year on the Cowboys' practice squad. 

Oh, by the way, you might not have known this either: Peterman says he's been working at snapping the ball this off-season, figuring if he is versatile enough to play a little center he makes himself that much more valuable to the team. So don't be surprised if you happen to see or hear of Peterman playing a little center this summer in Oxnard, Calif. 

So there, there are some things you probably didn't know, but need to know about Peterman, the kid from Bay St. Louis, Miss., who dearly needs to have a breakout season - not only for the Cowboys' sake, but his own. Probably a lot of things, come to think about it, you needed to know, most of which should give him a fighting chance. 

To become a player, that is, the last thing we need to find out about Stephen Peterman.   

MICK SHOTS

     
  Was asked the same question twice on Tuesday during radio interviews: Who is the team to beat in the NFC East? My response? Pick a team. That's right, any of the four NFC East teams has a legitimate chance to win the division. In fact, could see all four teams finishing with a winning record. 
  The Cowboys' draft choices are among the 255 rookies attending the four-day NFL Rookie Symposium this week in San Diego, where some life skills and cautions are annually addressed. 
  The Cowboys report to camp in 30 days, which means just 30 more days the club needs to keep its fingers crossed. For it seems this is the time of year, with players having so much time on their hands, they get themselves in trouble. But so far - OK Bill,

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