COWBOYS have speed to burn

Monday, July 30th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

WICHITA FALLS, Texas (AP) _ The Dallas Cowboys certainly won't have their best team this season. They may, however, have their fastest.

In filling their roster with rookies and castoffs, the Cowboys placed an emphasis on speed and came up with plenty.

``I don't know if we're talented right now, but we're fast,'' coach Dave Campo said. ``The thing that speed gives you is that you don't have to be do everything exactly right every time. That's exciting for us.''

Dallas has 25 players who have run the 40-yard dash in less than 4.5 seconds. Eight guys did it in under 4.3, including starting receivers Joey Galloway (4.15, on grass) and Raghib Ismail (4.24, after knee surgery) and Pro Bowl linebacker Dexter Coakley (4.28).

The most eye-popping figure was the 4.12 by receiver Damon Dunn, which tied the team record. However, Dunn's bid to make the team has been slowed by a knee injury that'll keep him out for about a month.

Fellow speedsters competing for receiving jobs include Bashir Yamini, a former track star at Iowa who was timed at 4.23, and Chris Brazzell, a two-year veteran who came in at 4.28. Brazzell strained a hamstring Sunday, but shouldn't miss much time.

Fast receivers are a must this season because Dallas hopes to throw deep a lot to take advantage of quarterback Tony Banks' strong arm.

``I think it's a perfect fit,'' Banks said. ``It's not necessarily just getting to the long ball, they're also good after they catch it. That's something I look forward to seeing. Get them on the turf and they'll be even faster.''

Running back John Avery, a former first-round pick by Miami, has shown incredible speed out of the backfield and on kick returns. He was timed at 4.27.

Rookie quarterback Quincy Carter didn't make the 4.3 club, but he's shown fleet feet and some great moves.

On defense, the top speedster is Dell Bates, who earned his way to training camp by running a 4.2.

The likely trio starting linebackers _ Coakley, Darren Hambrick and Dat Nguyen _ all run 4.6 or less. Ditto for defensive end Ebenezer Ekuban.

``I think our linebacker corps right now is probably as fast as we've had, and I'd have to say our secondary is pretty fast too,'' Campo said.

Campo realizes that the only way speed matters is if it gets players into the end zone, or if makes players stop the other team from doing so.

``We're fast, but we've still got to produce,'' he said. ``If you told me would you like to have a bunch of guys who can run or eight Pro Bowl players, I'd take the Pro Bowl players because experience matters. But speed makes up for some of those deficiencies.''