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Let The Poppin' Begin


Because if all goes as expected, the Cowboys, over these past two off-seasons, will have added (counting specialists) 17 frontline players, eight of those entering this season as no more than second-year players. And, if you look closely, there are 61 players on Thursday's training camp roster entering no more than their third NFL season. 

You kidding me? That many? 

Can this be possible? Can this be done? Can you win now while building for the future? 

Is Jones being smart or greedy? 

"Because of the mix we've got, the veterans and the young guys, I'm thrilled about our second-year guys," Jones said. "I think we can benefit from that (mix); I'm counting on it." 

He means projected starters DeMarcus Ware, Marcus Spears, Chris Canty and Rob Petitti. He means potential rotation guys such as Kevin Burnett, Jay Ratliff, Thomas Johnson and Tyson Thompson. 

While many like to quickly point to the age on this team, the Thirtysomething starters - Bledsoe, Owens, Glenn, Flozell Adams, Rivera, Ferguson and significant contributors such as Ellis, Aaron Glenn, Al Singleton and Vanderjagt - Jones realizes that's it. That's only six starters in their thirties. That ain't scratch, especially since two are offensive linemen, and 30 is prime age for them, and one is the quarterback, who, by the way, threw for 3,600 yards last year. 

If there suddenly is a worry on this team, well frankly, it's that this is such a young team, which certainly flies in the face of perception since Parcells has been accused of trying to win now with veterans and turning a deaf ear on foundation - that all he cares about is adding to his legacy, simply using the Cowboys as a means. 

Why that couldn't be further from the truth, right? But only if you aren't afraid of the truth. 

See, when you have trusted veterans in the right spots, then, as Jones says, "You can take a Carpenter or Fasano or (Jason) Hatcher and count on them to be significant contributors, yet know they will be part of the future." 

How's that for GM-ing? 

So maybe Jones and Parcells are on to something, that you can win while developing a foundation at the same time. Just maybe the Cowboys do have the right mix at the time of year hope springs eternal in the NFL. Hey, every team is a Super Bowl contender today in their own eyes. 

But does this not seem a real possibility to you, that this team is on the right road, and maybe one made easier by the key additions of Owens and Vanderjagt? Does this not seem like the most complete roster the Cowboys have boasted since, well, like 1999, probably the last time all seemed this fine, and actually was until that 3-0 start digressed into 8-8 after Michael Irvin went down for the career count in the fourth game of the season? 

Perfect? By no means. Competitive? By every means. 

Come on, let's get it on. Get unpacked. Say what you gotta say Friday during the team's state of address. But you know what, can't wait for Saturday. 

Order me the family size popcorn, extra butter, no salt. And the one that comes with free refills.     

!   Ellis delivered a left cross on the tarmac at Point Mugu upon arrival, saying he still is disgruntled with his situation, and continued to say "it is what it is," until answering one last question by finishing with, "That doesn't change anything. I still don't want to be here." Stay tuned. Remember, he's seen some squeaky wheels in the NFL get the grease. 
!   You'd better believe Keith Davis is thanking his lucky stars he's here today, period, and I mean on God's green earth, not Oxnard. Evidently the scan this week on his bullet-shot leg was negative, but remember, he still must pass Friday's conditioning run and the team still must feel comfortable with him participating in workouts before they clear him to practice after last week's shooting. 

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