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CZAR'S NOTES: Cowboys making all the right moves

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This will upset Jimmy Johnson to hear, but Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is on a hot streak. He has been making all the right moves. Now, this has nothing to do with gambling, something both men enjoy, but on taking personnel risks, the ones necessary when building a championship football team. Jones and the Cowboys have had an excellent off-season, topped off by one of the NFL's best drafts last month. They have upgraded their roster so impressively, the Cowboys have a real chance to challenge the Philadelphia Eagles for first place in the NFC East. Granted, one minicamp doesn't make a season. But Dallas was pretty pleased with the progress of their rookies, especially receiver Antonio Bryant, who acted professional throughout his four days in Big D. Bryant seems intent on proving that the other 31 teams made a mistake when they allowed him to slip into the second round. On the practice field, Bryant never seemed to slow in and out of his breaks. So fluid, so big, so unflappable. They're already calling him the steal of the draft and the next Michael Irvin. But the hushed news out of Dallas is that ex-Stanford quarterback Chad Hutchinson, the former right-hander in the St. Louis Cardinals organization, has been progressing at a rapid pace, considering he last played football four years ago. Hutchinson displayed better accuracy than starter Quincy Carter in drills, and receivers seemed to prefer his softer, easier to catch-in-stride deliveries. The Cowboys are so excited about Hutchinson that there could be a genuine quarterback controversy by the time preseason games start in August. Of course, Hutchinson needs to continue his progress with new offensive coordinator Bruce Coslet's West Coast offense. And everyone knows the key to such an offense is accuracy and decision-making. Carter, unlike Hutchinson, is a super athlete and natural leader. He played very well in the final four games of last season. However, Hutchinson is stronger and taller and sets up better in the pocket. He has natural talents. So, we're talking about two opposite players, both with something tangible to offer. My money is on Hutchinson, who is closer to what coaches want in their quarterbacks. When Jones gave this kid a $3 million signing bonus, it was money well spent. All these good reports out of Dallas don't sit too well with Jimmy. When these two worked together, Johnson never considered Jones to have an eye for talent. When success came to the Cowboys in the mid-90s, JJ refused to cut Jones any slack. He wouldn't give him any credit and the two parted acrimoniously. JJ even took a few shots at his former college teammate on draft weekend while working for ESPN. Remember, Jerry the owner, the general manager and the Cowboys bank manager, has been ridiculed ever since he replaced JJ with Barry Switzer. Granted, those two won a championship together, but then Jerry thought he had the talent for coaching. JJ poked fun at this. And the Cowboys have been stumbling ever since.
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  • So, what makes this season all the more interesting for Dallas fans is whether or not all these Jerry Jones moves truly pan out. Jones has been waiting a long time to have the last laugh on JJ.

    Klutz of the week

    This award goes to Denver quarterback Brian Griese, who somehow knocked himself unconscious after he tripped and fell while running down a driveway from Terrell Davis' house last Sunday. Griese chipped a front tooth and he needed seven stitches above a bruised right eye. Now, getting punched by a teammate at the minicamp party might have been a better story, but the Broncos are sticking with the steep driveway angle.

    McCardell a hot commodity

    Because of salary-cap limitations, the Jaguars will release Pro Bowl receiver Keenan McCardell after June 1 and already teams are lining up to bid for him. The Kansas City Chiefs appear to be the frontrunners because they plan on dumping Derrick Alexander. However, the Bears, Falcons, Raiders and Bucs also have needs at this position. Chicago has been trying to work out a deal with receiver Marcus Robinson, who has had both back and knee injuries, to reduce his contract. If he refuses, the Bears will be in the market for a franchise-caliber receiver. The Raiders reportedly have their eye on ex-Redskin Michael Westbrook.

    Giant front office moves

    The New York Giants generally promote from within and they did that again last week with the elevation of Jerry Reese to director of college player personnel. Many outsiders believe Reese could be in line to replace GM Ernie Accorsi, who has talked about retiring after this season. Marv Sunderland was re-assigned in the shakeup, but many of his scouting pals say he was forced out. Rick Donohue, the assistant general manager, elected to retire. Many around the league believe the Giants did the right thing in promoting Reese, who is a considered a good guy and solid evaluator.

    Notes and thoughts

  • In Green Bay, Packers QB Brett Favre was more impressed with last year's draft bust, Robert Ferguson, than No. 1 pick Javon Walker among his new receivers. Remember, the big acquisition in Packerland was troubled Patriot Terry Glenn.
  • Only in Chicago does it take four months to complete a deal with the coach of the year, Dick Jauron. How hard is it to give a quality coach a decent raise? Of course, GM Jerry Angelo probably wants to can Jauron if this playing in Champaign, Ill. experiment fails this season. There aren't too many aboard that train right now.
  • The Redskins will try to convince DT Sam Adams to move to Virginia and forget about re-signing with the Ravens.
  • The Jets' most recent minicamp left them with even more doubts about Chad Pennington ever replacing Vinny Testaverde. "He's too analytical," said Jets head coach Herman Edwards. "He worries about making a mistake rather than making a play." Since 1982, 35 quarterbacks have been drafted in the first round and Pennington is the only one to never start a game in his first two seasons. Testaverde, 38, recently signed an extension and he most likely will be the starter through the 2003 season.
  • Tagged: Bears, Browns, Cowboys, Broncos, Packers, Chiefs, Raiders, Patriots, Giants, Jets, Eagles, Redskins, Jaguars, Ravens, Cardinals, Brian Griese, Robert Ferguson, Brett Favre, Chad Pennington

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