IRVING, Texas - Defensive captain Dat Nguyen is back in the lineup, but Parcells said he wants to rotate Nguyen with Scott Shanle, who has started the past four games at "jack" inside linebacker.
"I'm really wanting to run a little rotation in there, like I've been doing with the defensive linemen," Parcells said. "I think it would help all of them. Dat doesn't get his ego bruised very easily, so it's not about that.
"I think he'll end up playing 30, 35 plays. That'd be good."
Nguyen missed three straight games with neck and knee injuries. He returned this past Sunday against Arizona but worked mostly in dime packages against four-receiver sets.
Parcells has been pleased with Shanle, who ranks seventh on the team in tackles (25).
"I don't necessarily think Shanle is better than Dat Nguyen," Parcells said. "But I like what Shanle is doing. He is a young, up and coming player. He can player regular and he can play nickel. Dat can play regular and he can play nickel."
Henry, Pile Miss
Cornerback Anthony Henry and safety Willie Pile missed Thursday's practice with groin strains but are making progress, Cowboys head coach Bill Parcells said.
Henry and Pile worked with strength and conditioning coaches during practice. Both players are considered no better than questionable for the Cowboys' next game Nov. 14 at Philadelphia.
"I have some concerns about Willie," Parcells said of Pile, who has filled in for Keith Davis on the nickel defense. "Willie's done a good job coming here. It's more than I really could have hoped for from him. He's played about 20-something plays on defense every week and played 20-something plays on special teams."
Henry's status also is in question after he suffered a strained groin in the fourth quarter of last Sunday's 34-13 victory over Arizona. He leads the Cowboys in interceptions (three) and pass deflections (11) and is tied with Bradie James for the team lead in tackles (42).
As insurance for Henry and Pile, the Cowboys brought back safeties Lynn Scott and Tony Dixon, who spent last season with the club.
"I'm here to do anything they ask me to do," Scott said.
Parcells doesn't mind giving his players a couple of days off during their bye week. But four or five days in a row is out of the question.
That's why the Cowboys players were back at work Thursday, just two days after leaving the Ranch for a brief respite.
"I picked the wrong team to go to," wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson joked.
Parcells said he likes to keep tabs on his players during the bye week to make sure they don't put on weight or lose their timing. He will give the players two days off, Sunday and Monday, before they return to work on Tuesday of next week.
"I think generally speaking that the veterans would use this as a time to kind of recharge and the young players might think they're sailors on shore leave," he said. "That would be the difference."
Linebacker DeMarcus Ware has been named the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Month for October.
The Cowboys' first pick in the 2005 draft (No. 11 overall) recorded 16 tackles, three sacks and seven quarterback pressures in October. He is just the second Cowboys player to win Rookie of the Month honors, joining Dexter Coakley in October 1997.
Ware beat out Packers safety Nick Collins, Dolphins linebacker Channing Crowder, Seahawks linebacker Lofa Tatupu and Broncos cornerback Domonique Foxworth in the voting.
Parcells spoke on a variety of topics during Thursday's news conference. Here's a sampling:
- Parcells said he thinks third-year offensive tackle Torrin Tucker is continuing to make progress. Tucker has played solid at left tackle in the two games since Flozell Adams was placed on injured reserve with a torn ACL.
- Newly-signed offensive tackle Marco Colombo will probably work at right tackle behind Rob Petitti because Parcells doesn't want to impede Tucker's progress on the left side. But Parcells said he's not pressuring Colombo to contribute immediately. The former first-round pick has played in only eight games the past two years because of a severe knee injury.
- Parcells said he's concerned about his depth at outside linebacker after placing Al Singleton on injured reserve Tuesday. Parcells is working Ryan Fowler more on the outside but said he could bring in more players, possibly linebackers, for workouts week.
- Another concern for Parcells is the kicking situation. Rookie Shaun Suisham made a pair of 21-yard field goals against Arizona but looked shaky in warmups. Parcells said Suisham had his best day of practice on Thursday, however.
Parcells said the players will return to practice next Tuesday after they take Sunday and Monday off . . . Steelers tight end Heath Miller beat out Cowboys rookie running back Marion Barber for Diet Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Week honors . . . Parcells said he gave backup quarterbacks Tony Romo and Drew Henson more reps with the Cowboys' offense in practice . . . Eagles wide receiver Terrell Owens (ankle) returned to practice Thursday despite being listed as doubtful for Sunday's game at Washington.