They Could Be Contenders

is their living. This is how they make money, so they don't treat these odds cavalierly. There is actually some studying going on (we think). 

So yep, someone other than you guys think the Cowboys have something going on in 2006. 

Fine, but what about the head realist, who also happens to be the head coach? What's he thinking? What's he telling his players? 

First of all, Parcells is looking at the division, and he doesn't see anything easy there in the NFC East, especially since the Giants and Redskins finished ahead of the Cowboys last year and qualified for the playoffs. And he knows the Eagles will be much better than a year ago when injuries to Donovan McNabb and the Owens distraction tore that team apart. 

"I just tried to tell them what I thought the division was going to be and the type of competition we're going to have," Parcells said of his mini-camp discussion with the guys. "That the division was going to be very competitive and that everybody would be in contention." 

He went on to point out how the Cowboys were playing the NFC South to his players, and if they needed a reminder, that Carolina and Tampa Bay were playoff teams, and that Atlanta was not far behind. 

He also found the necessity to point out the strength of the AFC South, what with having to play Indianapolis and Jacksonville, not just two more playoff teams, but teams that each won at least 12 games last year. 

"So I don't think we're going to have too much breathing room, and I think we're going to have to play very well and win some games on the road," Parcells said. "But I think all our division teams are in the same boat . . . pretty well balanced and a tough road, and whoever comes out on top will have earned it." 

But then how does he deal with all this Super Bowl talk, knowing his players must see some of these predictions; knowing they are hearing the expectations? Plus, as athletes are known to be, even his guys seem rather confident, talking about the Super Bowl being a goal, which I'm guessing that's not much different from players on any other team. 

What'd you tell 'em Bill? 

"I'll tell you what I told them," Parcells said. "I tell them, 'Put it on tape and let the fans, your opponents, the media and everybody that's watching see it. Let's not talk about it. Too much talking in pro football. Put it on tape and let everybody see it.' 

"So that's what I tell them about that. And that's very honest. In fact, I told them (June 1) that exact . . . 'Put it on tape. Let me see it. Time to show it.'" 

Can't wait. Too bad it's only the middle of June.   

MICK SHOTS

     
  So here is Keyshawn Johnson's opinion of the Terrell Owens-Bill Parcells relationship, which is voiced on a recent NFL Total Access interview on NFL Network: "The point when he'll have the problem is when he starts to feel like they're not paying me any attention or doing those things, and Parcells really doesn't care. He's had the best and he's had the worst of players, so to him, Terrell Owens is just another player . . . . But T. O. just has to go out there and try to help his team win a championship and do what he's always done, and everything else will take care of itself . . . I see the relationship working fine, as far as I can see." 
  Julius Jones rushed for 993 yards this past season, the most by a Cowboys running back since Emmitt Smith went for 1,021 in 2001. This four-year stretch without a 1,000-yard rusher is the longest for the franchise since Calvin Hill became the Cowboys' first 1,000-yard rusher in 1972. That's right, the Cowboys had no 1,000-yard rusher the first 12 years of their existence, Don Perkins' 945 in 1962 the club record until then. 
  OK, save your breath, er e-mails, next week. I'm outta here. Do the best you can without me.

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