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Mid-Day Report: Tight End Depth Takes Hit

What's The Scoop:
For a team planning to run a two-tight end offense, the last thing it needs is to lose any depth at the position. And that's exactly what happened to the Cowboys the first day of training camp, when backup tight end and special teams player Brett Pierce suffered a season-ending - and possibly career-ending - torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee.

Incredibly, the tear was to the ACL doctors reconstructed last year after he suffered the same injury to the same knee against Detroit on Nov. 20. Pierce underwent reconstructive surgery Dec. 16 and was cleared to take part in the team's early-June mini-camp after spending the off-season rehabilitating.

This marks the third time Pierce has torn the ACL in his left knee. The original tear to his own ACL occurred his junior year in college. His career could be in jeopardy.

"It's unfortunate because he was working very hard to get back," Cowboys head coach Bill Parcells said of Pierce, who will be placed on injured reserve.

Pierce was expected to battle for the fourth tight end spot with Sean Ryan and Tony Curtis. There is a good chance the Cowboys will keep at least four tight ends, and possibly five, which could include fullback Lousaka Polite, who is working as an all-purpose player. The top three would seem set with Jason Witten, second-round pick Anthony Fasano and veteran free-agent Ryan Hannam.

The Cowboys might miss Pierce's special teams contributions more than those at tight end. The third-year tight end from Stanford was fourth on the team with eight special teams tackles last year before suffering his season-ending injury on kickoff coverage in the season's 10th game.

For at least the sake of numbers, the Cowboys will look at bringing another tight end into training camp once Pierce is officially placed on injured reserve. But as Parcells said, "I don't know, there's not too many guys available at this time."

Quick Shots:

  • After spending two days on active Physically Unable to Perform, Cowboys starting left tackle Flozell Adams has been activated and will take part in Sunday's practice. Parcells said Adams worked hard off to the side with the strength and conditioning coaches Saturday, pointing out he ran 86, 50-yard dashes during the two practices he missed.
  • The sign greeting players entering the east end of the locker room at The Ranch, "Who's All In?" has turned into this year's practice T-shirt for Bill Parcells. The back of his shirt has two large hands shoving Cowboys-logo chips into a pot, with the Who's All In? slogan above. Last year Parcells and strength and conditioning coach Joe Juraszek were the only two wearing the T-shirts with the slogan "Winning Is Our Business." Parcells said one of his players came up with this year's slogan, but refused to reveal his identity.
  • When Drew Bledsoe overthrew J.R. Tolver in the afternoon 7-on-7 drill, there was Keith Davis, despite the bullet still lodged in his leg following the July 16 shooting, Johnny on the spot to intercept the pass.
  • No matter it's just practice or even just a 7-on-7 drill, when Terrell Owens beat Anthony Henry for what would have been like a 60-yard touchdown pass from Drew Bledsoe, Owens spiked the ball in the end zone.
  • Cornerback Terence Newman was spotted on punt returns last year, and Parcells said he would do more of the same with him this year, except that he wanted Newman to take the responsibility more seriously, saying he told him just the other day, "When I do (use you) I want you to be ready to do it well."
  • When it was quarterback Jeff Mroz' turn to run the special situation play in practice, Parcells turned to the sideline to call for his free-agent rookie from Yale by yelling, "Come on genius," a playful dig at the rookie's Ivy League upbringing.
  • Owens wore football pants over his customary practice tights in the morning practice but just the blue tights for the afternoon practice.
  • Saturday's crowd of 5,500 was the largest first-day attendance in the Cowboys' three years of camp in Oxnard.

You Should've Seen:
Bill Parcells and Greg Ellis chatting amicably during the break in Saturday's afternoon practice. Ellis sprinted out to Parcells just as Bobby Carpenter was bringing his perfunctory cup of water and the disgruntled defensive end talked with Parcells throughout the five-minute break at the 40-yard line for all to see. Ellis was even seen smiling during the chat. Parcells didn't want to say what the two were talking about, but pointed out he has a pretty good relationship with Ellis and that "both of us can separate the business side of the game from the playing side."

Who's Hot:
Fourth-round draft choice Skyler Green has shown surprisingly good hands after just two practice sessions. He has made several catches even though he's had to go high into the air and then land awkwardly. He also did a fine job catching punts during the afternoon special teams session, none of which escaped receivers coach Todd Haley, who told Green during practice, "You've already gotten so much better, Skyler."

Who's Not:
During the Saturday afternoon team session drill, running back Keylon Kincade was beside himself when he lost the ball running up the middle. The lost fumble caused the second-team offense, being led by quarterback Tony Romo, to run to the fence across the empty practice field and back.

Injury Update:
TE Brett Pierce, knee (ACL) - will require season-ending surgery (7/30)
DE Marcus Spears, knee (meniscus) - had knee scoped Sunday morning (7/30)
OT Flozell Adams removed from PUP (7/30)

Missed Practice:
DE Marcus Spears, torn meniscus
TE Brett Pierce, torn ACL

Returned to Practice:
OT Flozell Adams (7/30)

T Flozell Adams moved from PUP to active roster (7/30)
LB Bobby Carpenter, signed (7/29)
T E.J. Whitley, placed on injured reserve (7/29)
T Flozell Adams, placed on active PUP (7/28)
S Darrell Brooks, released (7/28)
G Shannon Snell, released (7/28)

Top BILL-ing:
"Well it better or we're not going to win. If they are doubling those guys or playing shell coverages and we can't run, we won't win." - Bill Parcells when asked if having Terrell Owens, Terry Glenn and Jason Witten on the field will help open up the running game.

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