We Brake For Backup QB's

practice. We'll give him that. 

But here's the question the Cowboys must answer: If you think your off-season additions put you in the playoff hunt, you want to leave those chances in either of these guys' hands for, I don't know, like three or four games when you know the fit is going to be tight? 

Now Parcells says, and owner Jerry Jones agrees, he needs to see these guys in some preseason games before making that decision. They get their first chance at 7 p.m. (PDT) Saturday against Arizona. 

"I just think you got to be fair to them - to see them under fire," Parcells said. "They know they're not going to get tackled (in the scrimmage)." 

OK, we'll be fair too, but with one eye out there cocked just in case. Because at this time, you have to say the Cowboys have a starting quarterback and two threes, which is better than last year, when really the Cowboys, after releasing Quincy Carter, had a backup and two threes. 

Now as Bill will tell you, they don't grow these backup quarterbacks on trees, and I'm not sure you want to be swapping even a mid-round draft choice for a backup unless you are a proven commodity. But if you play your cards right, someone out there just might have to release a guy. 

Plus, don't forget Vinny still is out there, and there aren't many backups on the market coming off a 3,500-yard season. Also, Jim Miller, coming off hip surgery, should be healthy soon. 

Others? Better close your eyes: Kordell Stewart, Jeff George, Rick Mirer, Doug Pederson, Doug Johnson, Jeff Blake, Brock Huard and . . . Carter, although word is he'd have to serve a suspension before being eligible to play, and I'm guessing that dog won't hunt here anymore. 

You can see why Parcells wants to wait. 

Maybe if this was a proven team, you wouldn't wait. The Cowboys rarely did in those days. Starting in 1991, they brought in the likes of Steve Beuerlein, Bernie Kosar, Rodney Peete, Wade Wilson and Randall Cunningham to be the backup. Even Hugh Millen, which didn't work out so well. The only time they really rolled the dice was with Jason Garrett in 1998-99, having covered themselves in '93 eventually with Kosar when Millen washed out. 

Parcells did say he has someone in mind to bring in to possibly place on the practice squad, but not now, that he doesn't want to take away reps from his two young quarterbacks during training camp. 

Prior to the scrimmage, when asked about the backup quarterbacks and the possibility of bringing in someone with more experience, Parcells said, "I think it would be too early to think about that right now. I got to see what I've got here . . . . I think it will play out in the preseason. And when that's done, then if something needs to be done, we'll try and do it." 

So you have someone in mind? 

"I know who they are, if that's what you want to know. Yes, I know who they are," Parcells said. 

So does that mean your backup quarterback is not on your current roster? 

"Look, I told you what I'm going to do," Parcells said. "I'm going to give these guys one-third of the reps, I'm going to play them in the preseason and see what happens. That's not going to change." 

And then? 

He hopes he doesn't have to grab for the emergency brake.     

MICK SHOTS

   
  Maybe Andre Gurode really can play this center position. Not only was Gurode working again with the first-team offense Monday, ahead of Al Johnson after working with the second team during the scrimmage, but the Cowboys have moved third-team center Tyson Walter over to right guard behind Marco Rivera and Ben Noll - forcing rookie free agent Matt Tarullo over to third-team center from guard. No way Parcells would keep three centers.
  Moving first-round pick Demarcus Ware to the first team was only a matter of time, but just because it happened on Monday for the first time in base defense doesn't necessarily mean he played lights-out in the scrimmage. Or at

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