DALLAS Cowboys cut QB Banks, name rookie Carter starter

Tuesday, August 14th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OXNARD, Calif. (AP) _ The Dallas Cowboys have decided the Quincy Carter era is now.

Tony Banks, who was supposed to be the stopgap replacement for Troy Aikman, passed for just 54 yards in his two exhibition starts, so the team cut him and installed Carter as their starting quarterback.

Carter was Dallas' top draft pick _ in the second round _ last April and immediately was labeled the long-term replacement for Aikman. Banks had signed a few weeks earlier with the promise that he was the short-term solution and would start this season.

But after three weeks of training camp and two exhibitions, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and coach Dave Campo said they've decided to change their offense to a ball-control attack they feel best suits Carter and the new second-stringer, Anthony Wright.

``It wasn't that Tony Banks went backward, it's that those guys elevated themselves to the point where we feel for this particular season and the future this in the best interest of the football team,'' Campo said.

The Cowboys were ridiculed by many for making Carter the 53rd overall pick and for their lofty expectations. The 23-year-old played three seasons at Georgia but his last one was his worst.

He went 9-of-15 for 167 yards and two touchdowns in his preseason debut against Oakland. He was 6-of-11 for 48 yards Saturday against Denver, although he did lead Dallas within field-goal range twice.

``We did not and could not have known the maturity and sharpness Quincy Carter has exhibited,'' said Jones, who as general manager personally selected Carter and anointed him the team's quarterback of the future.

``I look at Daunte Culpepper, I look at Donovan McNabb _ players that have played early, albeit their second year, not their first year _ and it is logical to me that Quincy has the ability to come in and have that kind of success with this team at this time.''

The 6-foot-2, 231-pound Carter fits the NFL's new breed of strong-armed, mobile quarterbacks.

``Am I ready?'' Carter asked. ``That's a big question mark until game time comes. No one knows if I'm ready or not, but I will definitely be prepared.''

Carter, Wright and third-stringer Clint Stoerner have a combined two NFL starts, all by Wright, and a grand total of five regular-season appearances. Jones has predicted a 10-6 record for a team that finished 5-11 last season.

The new offensive approach is based on moving the ball in small increments to sustain long drives and keep their beleaguered defense off the field.

The previous plan was to use a quick-strike, deep-ball attack to take advantage of Banks' strong arm and the fleet feet of receivers Joey Galloway and Raghib Ismail.

It's an interesting change for offensive coordinator Jack Reilly, who was brought in last season to install the other system.

Banks _ who lost starting jobs in St. Louis and Baltimore, but never in the preseason _ had a $500,000, one-year contract with no signing bonus. It was a huge bargain for a starting quarterback considering it's just $23,000 above the veteran minimum, but Banks took it in hopes of proving himself, then cashing in next season.

In two preseason games, Banks was 6-of-14 for 54 yards. He wasn't surrounded by Dallas' best skill-position players. Even Campo said Banks' 1-for-5 outing against Denver would've been much better if not for dropped passes.

``I guess I'm not Jerry's guy,'' Banks said. ``You all saw practice and saw how I was playing. I didn't see this coming.

``I feel like my dad hit me with a baseball bat. It was the last thing I was expecting. All I know is the offensive coordinator and the quarterback coach had no idea what was going on. That should tell you something.''

Banks irked coaches by missing a few days of a minicamp while moving and he didn't spend as much time around team headquarters between minicamps as they would've liked.

Jones said Tuesday he had explained ``very carefully and very painstakingly'' to Banks what was expected from the starting quarterback of the Cowboys, one of the most high-profile roles in pro sports.

``The perception of leadership, the passion for the competitiveness for it, we were very clear from the word go,'' Jones said. ``We ultimately made the decision because we have that in Quincy Carter and Anthony Wright.''