exactly what the Cowboys are hoping Henson gains, and fortunately for him, at least at this time, Chang, the former Hawaii quarterback, is the only other quarterback on the Fire roster. Plus, Henson is in a different boat than most of these NFL Europe quarterbacks, and even those alums. He went off to play professional baseball for three seasons, and over the past two years with the Cowboys has played in just three quarters of real NFL football.
So from a game standpoint, not counting preseason appearances, Henson basically has not played any real football for five years. That's a long time not to be doing something most everyone else you are competing against in the NFL has been doing for five years.
The Cowboys also are hoping this spring fling turns out better for Henson than it did for Hutchinson, who spent the 2004 spring overseas. He also spent the NFL Europe season with the Rhein Fire. But he got clobbered, the Fire so void of offensive linemen by the end of the season it was employing guys off the streets - the German streets. Plus, his bad habits seemingly grew worse.
Henson seemed to regress last training camp, looking less sharp and less sure of himself than he did his rookie season when he finally wrestled the backup quarterback job away from Tony Romo seven games into the season. He just needs to play, and not in a practice laboratory where most everything is scripted. He needs to make the right decision when forced out of the pocket. He needs to throw the ball away when no one is open. He needs to improvise when his primary receiver falls down.
Just needs to play football.
Plus, the Cowboys do need to make a decision on him at some point. Not necessarily this year, since they did sign him to an eight-year deal. And not even necessarily next year, either. In fact, the $3.5 million guaranteed in his contract simply is the sum of his eight base salaries. Now if he should achieve the performance incentives to void the final four years - taking 30 percent of the offensive snaps - then the guaranteed money is paid out at that point. So financially, the Cowboys aren't out any huge amount of money on Henson until he either voids the deal, which means he's likely proven he's an NFL starting quarterback, or they release him.
But the Cowboys' quarterback position is the least proven or stable. OK, veteran Drew Bledsoe is good for this coming season, and maybe even next. At this point, the Cowboys do think they have something in Romo, but the operative word there is "think." They haven't seen him play in a regular-season game yet, and he's heading into his fourth season. And you know Henson's story.
So at some point the Cowboys, when the opportunity presents itself, might need to bring in another young quarterback who potentially can be the guy, especially if they can't get a tangible gauge on Romo or Henson any time soon. And if they do, someone has to go.
Henson thus goes to Germany this spring trying to prove he should not be the odd-man out. He will get 1½ months of rest afterward before having to prove even more when the Cowboys go to training camp the end of July - maybe his most important training camp with the Cowboys.
At some point he must provide a ray of hope, or else, right? Can't keep counting on your eggs to hatch if the shell gives no indication of any breakage taking place.
Now who knows, Henson might be the blue moon. And remember, his circumstances are different than most quarterbacks playing overseas. But for some more perspective, here is a list of NFL Europe's leading quarterbacks from the 2005 season: Dave Ragone, Kevin Eakin, Scott McBrien, Casey Bramlett, Kevin Thompson, Kurt Kittner, Ryan Dinwiddie. All but Ragone (Houston) were cut by their NFL teams before the 2005 season began.
And let's try on 2004 for size: Rohan Davey, J.T. O'Sullivan, Ryan Van Dyke, Hutchinson, Stoerner and Nate Hybl. Every one of them was cut, Davey picked up eventually as the Cards' No. 4 QB and the Vikings doing the same with O'Sullivan.
Want to continue? Like 2003? Let's see, that would be Craig Nall, Phil Stambaugh, Shaun Hill, James Brown and Nick Rolovich, who actually got a workout with the Cowboys. Got anything there? In 2002, it was Ted White, Kevin
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