Rob Petitti, even though he knows he's not ready now but seemingly is confident he'll grow into the job in another month or so? Does he gamble with Torrin Tucker there, or simply settle for Kurt Vollers? And when you start working the numbers, it would appear he can't keep Tucker if he's not starting.
Or, do you just go ahead and sign a veteran free agent, that Scott Gragg guy, even though no one else out there seems to want the guy, at the expense of a young, developmental player? And at this point, it appears Parcells has ruled out moving Larry Allen out to right tackle, which he said he would if he had three guards he could count on. Evidently he doesn't, which means Stephen Peterman is not ready to start.
But hey, there is more. What about place kicker? Sure, Jose Cortez is four-for-four kicking field goals in these first two preseason games, and has been highly effective on kickoffs. But are we to believe that a 71-percent career field-goal kicker who hasn't even attempted a field goal during a regular-season game the past two seasons has improved his accuracy through inactivity? Certainly Bill is not being lulled into a false sense of security there.
Nose tackle suddenly is becoming a pain. Sure, Parcells has La'Roi Glover playing there, but the guy they handed a $9 million signing bonus to, Jason Ferguson, still is nursing a high ankle sprain and is fixing to miss his third preseason game this Saturday. And while utility man Leo Carson can back up Glover, the guy who has pushed himself into consideration, Thomas Johnson, is out with a sore ankle and the after-effects of a mild concussion. Chances are he won't play on Saturday.
Then there is Marcus Spears. Remember him? The second first-round draft choice? The guy who was to be the anchor to the left side of the 3-4 defense? He just jumped back into practice Wednesday, and it seems rather doubtful that after not practicing since Aug. 5, Parcells would just rush him back onto the field. Plus, Parcells moans on and on about how he's just not sure what he can expect out of his rookie, who he insists is way behind. "Don't let anybody kid you," Parcells said, "he's got a lot to do."
Nothing has changed about outside linebacker. He's still concerned, and well he should be since Al Singleton is the only guy there who has actually started NFL games, and at that, he's never played in a 3-4. And to think this is the most critical position in the 3-4, having guys versatile enough to rush the passer, play the run and drop into coverage.
Plus, there appears no turning back now on this 3-4. Even though you might see the Cowboys playing some even-front defense, Parcells says "I'm with it" when asked about the 3-4. "That's going to be our lead defense pretty much," he said. "No, no, I'm not having any second thoughts."
Fine, but there seems to be a few at safety. Not necessarily free, but the entire position. Now it appears Parcells is OK with Roy Williams and Keith Davis - for now - starting. But it's what happens behind them he's worried about. Does he keep rookie Justin Beriault, even though he's having problems with that right knee? What will recently-acquired Rich Coady show him in two weeks? And if he does show him something, then where does that leave him with Lynn Scott? And by the way, who is the backup to Williams on the strong side if Beriault's knee prevents him from making this team?
See what we're talking about?
"We've got a few moving parts," Parcells insists.
This is one of those 500-tinsy-piece jigsaw puzzles, and while Parcells might have done a nice job putting the borders together, he's still struggling to fill in the middle since some pieces are infinitely dependent on so many others - all enough to give you tired head.
So that Bill, worry-wart or legitimate worries?
Wonder what his season prediction would be?
| That the Cowboys have not only pulled Lance Frazier out of practice, but his name off his locker-room cubicle, is a sure indication they are trying to trade him for
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