Practice Squadder's Approach Can Differ

do that. But it's definitely different. It's another role guys have to fill. You have to have this if you want to have a program."

But to do it, you have to have that good attitude. The practice squad is like what your parents and every good teacher and scoutmaster and organizational leader you've ever had have always told you: you get out of it what you put into it.

That's why chances are Amendola will get better this year. He can't get taller, but he can get with strength coach Joe Juraszek and get a little bigger and a lot more physical. And he can learn to be a better receiver.

"I need to learn our scheme better," he says. "I've got to learn more about the offense and get in the playbook. It's one of those deals: I'm really lucky to be in this position. Nothing's guaranteed. Sure, I wanted to make the team, but I have a chance to play my way on to it. I would describe my feelings as disappointed optimism. I still get to wear the helmet."

Bartel is no less appreciative of his chance, but his circumstances are different. The Cowboys have been up front with him and told him if they sign a veteran third quarterback to the 53-man roster next week, something widely rumored, there's a chance Bartel could be released again. You don't need four quarterbacks to practice. But at the moment, he had no other practice squad offers, so this represented his best opportunity.

What Bartel has to do is keep getting better, something he knows he did on the practice squad last year.

"Without a doubt," he says. "A lot of it has to do with just being out at practice and getting reps against a great defense like we have. The other part of it is getting with Joe (Juraszek), coming in on Tuesdays when we're off, getting the work I need personally to improve myself."

He has done that, and the Cowboys know it. But as his coaches explained to him, sometimes a roster gets hit by injuries and adjustments have to be made. And in the end, if Tony Romo were to be injured, they would like someone behind Brad Johnson who has taken snaps in an NFL game. Bartel understands, even if he doesn't like it.

"I need to give them or some other team a quarterback they can trust. Everybody in this locker room wants an opportunity. I'm just looking for mine now."

At the moment, it's coming on the practice squad.

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