Thursday Notes: T.O. Stirs Things Up

Position: Punter Height/Weight: 6-0, 189
Age: 23
College: Oregon State
NFL Exp: Rookie
How Acquired: FA for '07
Hometown:Fullerton, Calif.

Fitting In: Well, there doesn't figure to be much room on the roster for a rookie free agent with Pro Bowl punter Mat McBriar on the roster. But Paulescu impressed the Cowboys during his first couple of weeks in camp, and after releasing him, brought him back because they wanted to get more work for their young punt returners. So instead of wearing out McBriar's leg or just using the Jugs machine, there was the rookie from Oregon State punting after practice to Isaiah Stanback and Quincy Butler on Thursday evening.
So Far: Since training camp began, he was released Aug. 3, a week into camp, and then re-signed Aug. 14 when the Cowboys still had an open spot on the 85-man roster. But he has punted well, and if he gets a chance to punt in either of the next two preseason games and punts well, there might be a chance for the Cowboys to possibly trade him for a conditional pick or for another team to claim him after he's released. McBriar tells the story about how Denver traded him his rookie year to Seattle for a conditional pick right in the middle of practice.
Best Asset: He has a big leg, and for a rookie, really has been rather consistent. Now the question he must answer is how he handles the bright lights of a game. It's one thing to punt in practice, but entirely another with 50,000 people watching and your job in on the line.
You Should Know: Before transferring to Oregon State, Paulescu played at Fullerton College, where he was the punter and place-kicker. He was the fifth-leading scorer among California junior college players, scoring 73 points, going a perfect 37-37 on PATs and hitting 12 of 17 field goals. He even hit an 86-yard punter in a playoff game against Santa Monica.
A Mouthful: "To be the best you have to play with the best. This type of opportunity is just a blessing, I know (McBriar's) a Pro-Bowler and he's the guy, I know that and everyone knows that. I respect him and he's a great guy. It's always good learning from the best." -Jordan Hofeditz

In The Zone

Phillips may have his hands full deciding who will kick field goals, but he'd much rather decide who will kick extra points.

The head coach expressed concern about the Cowboys playing in the red zone on both sides of the ball, though the offense seems to be the most troubled. The Cowboys offense successfully marched into the red zone in its first two possessions against the Colts last Thursday, settling both times for a field goal. The red zone woes have continued since, with starting quarterback Tony Romo throwing an interception in the end zone in the afternoon practice against the Broncos.

"The red zone you're going to be in offensively and defensively, and of course that's the scoring zone, the important zone," Phillips said. "The difference between scoring three and getting seven is big, because most of the games are close games, so it's a real emphasis and something we will keep going through the preseason."

Phillips said that the team will work on goal line defense and offense next week.

Touching Moment

Football gave way to a touching moment after the second practice at Valley Ranch Thursday when the mother of Darrent Williams, the Broncos cornerback who was killed in a drive-by shooting on New Year's Eve, greeted the Denver team following practice.

Rosalind Williams, who lives in Fort Worth, arrived here late in the second practice to meet up with the organization which supported here back in January. Broncos veteran safety John Lynch led her onto the field and into the post-practice huddle, where the team broke on Ms. Williams.

Even Cowboys wide receiver Terrell Owens got into the act, he and Denver receiver Javon Walker handing her a ball after practice. Walker was in the limo the night Williams, of O.D. Wyatt High School in Fort Worth and Oklahoma State, was senselessly gunned down.

Ms. Williams had previously met with the team at its hotel, where she had a casual lunch with head coach Mike Shanahan and several of her son's teammates. She had not seen members of the team since Darrent's funeral.

--Mickey Spagnola

Practice Status

For the second consecutive day, Cowboys starting offensive tackles Flozell Adams and Marc Colombo only participated in the second of two practices, but Phillips still says both will start in Saturday's preseason game. Adams and Colombo have been recovering from off-season knee surgeries.

The Cowboys also limited wide receiver Isaiah Stanback to just one practice on Thursday, but he spent time after sitting out the second practice catching punts for at least another 20 minutes.

Also not practice on Thursday were nose tackle Jason Ferguson, linebacker Greg Ellis (heel), wide receiver Terry Glenn (knee), wide receiver Jamaica Rector (knee), defensive end Jason Hatcher (hamstring), cornerback Quincy Butler (leg muscle) and offensive tackle Doug Free (knee).

Ferguson missed both practices to be with his wife Gena, who gave birth to their son Geno earlier in the day.

--Mickey Spagnola

Short Shots

Two more Cowboys were among the final four Seniors Committee considerations for the 2008 Pro Football Hall of Fame induction. Wide receiver Bob Hayes and linebacker Chuck Howley were included in the final four, along with Johnny Robinson and Tommy Nobis. That group will be pared down to two, and join the 15 finalists for consideration the day before Super Bowl XLII, Feb. 2, 2008, in Phoenix . . . A couple of more former Cowboys breezed through practice on Thursday, including Deion Sanders, Larry Brown and Daryl Johnston, who will be part of the three-man booth for Saturday's TV broadcast of the Cowboys-Broncos game on the Dallas Cowboys television network . . . The Cowboys will hold only a walk-through practice on Friday as final preparation for Saturday's second preseason game.

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