Friday, July 26, 1996

Camp notes: Casillas, Herschel, Hervey, Stram and rain


By CHIP BROWN
Associated Press Writer
(July 26, 1996)

AUSTIN (AP) - Will the Dallas Cowboys sign a veteran receiver to fill in for Michael Irvin, who has been suspended by the NFL for the first five games of the season?

Some offensive coaches suggested Thursday that they would like to bring in a free agent, but coach Barry Switzer said that isn't in the immediate plans.

"We are going to stay with what we've got right now. We will be all right," said Switzer, adding that Kevin Williams and Deion Sanders are currently the projected starters at receiver when the season opens.

Offensive coordinator Ernie Zampese and running backs coach Joe Brodsky indicated that they would like to have another veteran to throw to.

"I'd love to have more receivers to pick from," Zampese said. "But I don't know the feasibility of that."

Brodsky said Sanders should be focusing on defense and that another receiver should be brought in to help keep teams from doubling Kevin Williams or loading up against the run.

"If it was my decision, Deion would be at defensive back. I hope we are not kidding ourselves thinking that Deion is going to be a primary receiver. He's one of the finest defensive players in the history of the league," Brodsky said.

Cowboys vice president Stephen Jones said Irvin's salary won't count against the team's salary cap during the suspension. That money, which Jones said was "between $300,000 and $400,000,"
could be used immediately to sign other players, Jones said.

"Right now, we have to look at our overall roster, and receiver is not necessarily the position we need to focus on," Jones said. "We are real pleased with our receivers."

The Cowboys have shown interest in free agents such as Art Monk and Flipper Anderson but have little room remaining under the NFL's $40.75 million salary cap.

CASILLAS RETURNS:

Recently acquired defensive lineman Tony Casillas was at training camp Thursday, but wasn't immediately expected to take part in workouts, Dallas Cowboys coach Barry Switzer said.

Casillas, who was a key run stopper for the Cowboys in their 1992 and 1993 Super Bowl seasons, had been undergoing treatment for an ailing back after re-signing with Dallas.

"Tony is a front-line player and starter in this league," Switzer said. "His return to workouts will be gradual. I put him in the same class as Charles Haley and Tony Tolbert."

Haley (back) and Tolbert (both knees) are recovering from offseason surgery and have yet to practice.

HUSTLING HERSCHEL:

With Jay Novacek still receiving treatment for a lower back strain, offensive coordinator Ernie Zampese said Thursday that Herschel Walker will likely see action at tight end.

"Herschel has played a lot of different positions," Zampese said. "He has lined up at tight end before. Eventually that's what he'll move into. He's one of the great role players I think."

Zampese applauded Walker for playing running back, fullback, receiver and special teams.

"He'll line up all over the place, except offensive line," Zampese said. "(Dallas offensive line coach) Hudson (Houck) likes those guys at about 830 pounds."

TRACK ANALYST:

Dallas receiver Ed Hervey, who was an All-American track star in the 200 meters at Southern California, said watching the Olympics hasn't caused any second thoughts about choosing football over track.

"I'm focused on football," said Hervey. "I'm just a track fan now."

Hervey said he thinks Michael Johnson is a lock to win gold in the 400 meters but thinks Johnson might fall in the 200 to reigning Olympic gold medalist Mike Marsh.

"I'm pulling for Marsh," Hervey said. "I like the way he conducts himself and people are counting him out."

DALLAS OBSERVER:

Former NFL coach Hank Stram was at training camp on Thursday observing Dallas before working as a TV commentator during the Cowboys' exhibition game against Oakland on Saturday.

Stram, who coached the Kansas City Chiefs to victory over Minnesota in Super Bowl IV, said he doubts the recent turmoil surrounding the Cowboys will hurt the team.

"A lot of people, when they have adversity, look for a reason to lose rather than a reason to win," Stram said. "This team doesn't do that. The greatest quality that they have is chemistry. The players have always rallied when adversity strikes."

RAINED OUT:

Thursday afternoon practice was called off because of thunderstorms.


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