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Wednesday, September 2, 1998

Cowboys release receiver Stepfret Williams

By Kevin Lyons

Knight Ridder Newspapers

(KRT)

IRVING, Texas - Jimmy Smith. Tim Daniel. Kevin Williams. Willie Jackson. Edward Hervey. Anthony Miller. Macey Brooks.

The Cowboys signed each hoping to find a running mate for Michael Irvin.

Each is running plays for another team, or has been run out of football.

Add Stepfret Williams to the list.

The Cowboys released their third-round pick from the 1996 draft on Tuesday, the eighth draftee or high-priced free agent the club has been unable to develop into a dependable wide receiver since drafting Alvin Harper in 1991.

Cowboys coach Chan Gailey announced Williams' release minutes before the club's kickoff luncheon to introduce the 1998 team to sponsors at Hotel Intercontinental in North Dallas. Williams was waived, Gailey said, to make room for running back Sherman Williams, who was re-signed to back up Emmitt Smith while Chris Warren is out for at least a month with a groin injury.

It is unlikely that the Cowboys will make more roster moves before Sunday's season opener against the Arizona Cardinals, team owner Jerry Jones said.

Williams caught 30 passes for 308 yards and one touchdown as the club's third-down wide receiver in 1997. He caught six passes for 69 yards in preseason and added six kickoff returns for 150 yards.

But Williams was undependable in preseason, dropping "more balls than I thought he would," Gailey said. And at 6 feet, 170 pounds, Williams is small for the blocking role that the Cowboys ask of their third- and fourth-team wide receivers.

Late in preseason, Cowboys coaches had moved H-back Eric Bjornson ahead of Williams in the four-receivers set.

Williams' release means that the Cowboys will begin the season with five wide receivers: Irvin, Billy Davis, Ernie Mills, Jeff Ogden and Patrick Jeffers.

Davis, Mills, Ogden and Jeffers combined for 17 receptions for 184 yards and one touchdown in 1997. Jimmy Smith, who played for the Cowboys in 1992, caught 82 passes for 1,324 yards and four touchdowns for the Jacksonville Jaguars last season.

"We'll keep working at it," Cowboys vice president Stephen Jones said of the club's bad luck with wide receivers. "But sometimes when you change systems, it can affect your personnel. Stepfret may have fallen into that category. We ask our receivers to do a lot of blocking. We ask them to be real physical with all of the crossing routes. Step was more of a finesse guy."

Now, like seven before him, he's a gone guy.Cowboys spotlightHow are the Cowboys preparing to stop mobile Cardinals quarterback Jake Plummer, who reminds former 49ers coach Bill Walsh of Joe Montana?

Because of Deion Sanders and Kevin Smith, the Cowboys should do a good job covering Plummer's primary targets, Rob Moore and Frank Sanders. It's Plummer's running ability that worries coaches. Expect linebacker Dexter Coakley to act as a "spy" on Plummer in short-yardage passing situations. Safety Omar Stoutmire will probably be used as the spy in long-yardage passing situations.

(c) 1998, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Visit the Star-Telegram on the World Wide Web: www.star-telegram.com.

Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.


All content copyright 1998, AP, KRT, The Abilene Reporter-News and Reporter OnLine
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