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Tuesday, September 1, 1998

Cowboys scramble to fill backup roles


Associated Press

IRVING - The Dallas Cowboys keep churning their roster with hopes of finding someone to help them win their first game in nine months.

The new offense under Chan Gailey must be fine-tuned quickly because the Cowboys open the regular season against Arizona on Sunday after five exhibition losses. Dallas lost its last five games in 1997, prompting the ouster of Barry Switzer.

On Monday, the Cowboys brought in running back Sherman Williams, who rushed 121 times for 468 yards last year, but was cut during the summer after former Seattle star Chris Warren was signed.

Warren, supposed to give Emmitt Smith some third-down rest, has a groin injury and won't play for perhaps a month.

Dallas also added Patrick Jeffers, a 6-foot-3, 215-pound wide receiver who played in 14 games for Denver last year and caught three passes for 24 yards. Jeffers replaces Macey Brooks, the fourth-round pick in 1997.

The 6-foot-5 Brooks never developed into the receiver the Cowboys wanted and the last straw was when he dropped a sure touchdown pass in an exhibition game. When training camp opened, Brooks was a candidate for the second receiver spot opposite Michael Irvin, but he wasn't impressive enough to make the team.

"I plan on helping the team anyway I can," Jeffers said. "I played special teams at Denver and I'll play special teams here. I got a Super Bowl ring with Denver and maybe I can be a part of winning one here."

The Cowboys also were talking to Herschel Walker about the possibility of returning, although kick returner Stepfret Williams had good games in the preseason.

Owner Jerry Jones said Sherman Williams could be a big help.

"This offense fits him good," Jones said. "He worked with us in the spring and knows the system."

Gailey said the fact the Cowboys know Sherman Williams, who has had fumbling problems in the past, is one of the reasons they asked him back.

"He gets another chance now," Gailey said.

The Cowboys also were looking to sign a third quarterback after cutting rookie Daniel Gonzalez of Eastern Carolina. They want someone with veteran experience to back up No. 2 quarterback Jason Garrett and starter Troy Aikman.

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