Tracking Petitti's Story

rookie season and physically depleted, having started the calendar year by losing roughly 40 pounds just to get into shape enough to be drafted.

"I don't know what all that did to his physical strength and stamina, but you'd imagine it wouldn't be helpful," head coach Bill Parcells mused at his Sunday news briefing. This was by way of talking extensively about Petitti for the third day in a row, and when Parcells is talking about an individual player, it's for a reason.

At the June mini-camp, Parcells had called Petitti one of the physically most improved players on the team. He reiterated the point for reporters Friday, and Saturday, and again Sunday.

"He looks like a different person," said Parcells. "That doesn't mean it'll translate onto the field, but he's been more diligent about his training than just about anyone we have except maybe (cornerback Terence) Newman. He has a better understanding of what it takes to be a professional."

As a result, Parcells has higher expectations for Petitti, which will translate into a bull's-eye on the player's back in camp.

After Saturday's second practice, Petitti was noticeably distracted. This was because he had made an error on a play and drew the coach's attention and ire. Petitti was still grumbling about it after practice.

"I didn't make a mistake all practice until that one, and then I heard about not paying attention," he shook his head. "But this is important to me. I don't want to just be a guy out here. I want to be a really good player and I have to learn to be consistent. I've worked hard in the off-season, changed my eating habits, worked out every day.

"There are a lot of people telling me, 'No way. After last year, no way you can be any good.' I want to show them something."

As mentioned earlier, no one knows what to expect. That, and Adams' knee injury last year, are among the reasons the Cowboys signed nine-year veteran Jason Fabini away from the Jets, where he started 114 games since being drafted (by Parcells, in the fourth round) in 1998.

Maybe Fabini is quality depth, the kind the Cowboys haven't had at tackle in some time. If that happens, it means Adams stayed healthy and Petitti began to live up to his head coach's lofty expectations.

Probably also means someone bought the $300 giant T.O. bobblehead.

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