Nipping It In The Bud

against San Francisco, the league's 32nd-ranked defense. Lamar Gordon gained a season-high 57 yards. 

And, not only did quarterback Donovan McNabb run for a season-high 22 yards, he also ran for a touchdown - his first rushing touchdown of the season and first since Nov. 28 of 2004. 

That will demote what had been a stellar defense, one previously giving up 89.1 rushing yards a game, to S.O.B. status in a hurry. 

What P-Oed Parcells even more was the play the Eagles were gaining most of their yards on in the game. 

"It's called Ride 35-Base, with the blocking scheme they used, it was the first play our offense put in, in training camp to run against our defense," Parcells said. "The first one. OK, that's where they made all their yards." 

Now the Cowboys were without left outside linebacker Al Singleton, having broken his collarbone against Arizona to land on injured reserve. That's a vital spot in the 3-4 defense, especially against the run. Funny thing about Al - "He's the Milkman," says Parcells - is you didn't really notice him until he was gone.  

Spot player Scott Fujita had taken his place. Fujita's spot duty was better than his full-time duty, Parcells only willing to say his new starting left outside linebacker was "fair" in his first start with the Cowboys. And judging by the tone of his voice, the head coach was trying to be polite. 

Having said all this, you got the distinct feeling the problems stopping the run, at least in the head guy's mind, was playing too soft. That his defense just didn't man up, maybe the worse transgression in Parcells' mind. Because if he's old school about anything in this game of football, it's that his front must impart its will on opponents. 

"I told the team after the game, after I spent the bye week trying to get everybody healthy and talk those first-year players into what kind of environment we'd be in, in Philadelphia and how we all had to be ready to go, and this and that . . . I told them I'm done doing that," Parcells said. 

He is. Despite knowing his team is smack-dab in the middle of playing three games in 11 days, Parcells had the pads back on out here on Thursday. No rest, even if they were or will be weary. 

In fact, Parcells even cracked out a few drills from training camp, the ones with the offensive linemen and tight ends going up against the linebackers and defensive linemen. Physical stuff, you know. 

"When you put the pads on, it's more realistic of the game," rookie defensive end Chris Canty said. 

"He wants to subconsciously put it back in our heads," offensive captain Dan Campbell said of the more physical practice. 

So the Cowboys went back to heavy-duty work on Thursday, which just might be their last hard day in full pads, considering they will only have three days between Sunday's game against Detroit and Thursday's game against Denver. There is only so much a body can withstand. 

Then why work them hard on Thursday? 

"Because it doesn't do any good (not to), a waste of time, all that resting up, all that B.S.," Parcells barked. 

That meant a physical practice, because in Parcells' mind, you play the way you practice. And if he wants his team to play physical, meaning not give up 181 yards rushing or not run the ball 23 times for 32 yards (plus Marion Barber's 26-yard run), then that needs to be the mindset. Physical. Take nothing for granted. Stop the run. 

Thus the mouse traps, too. 

Thus the "can of worms." 

And, oh, let's not forget this analogy Parcells used, too, about his effort to stop whatever leakage occurred against the run Monday night for a good 56 minutes, 14 seconds: 

"Sometimes it's like the measles. Catchy." 

Metaphors, analogies, whatever it takes.   

MICK SHOTS

 
  Wonder if Lions coach Steve Mariucci takes into consideration the performances of his two quarterbacks last year against the Cowboys before he chooses a starter. The Lions' Joey Harrington was 19 of 32 for 255 yards, two touchdowns and one interception in

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