Cowboys Not Decided on Aikman

Tuesday, September 5th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

IRVING, Texas (AP) — The landmark star logo in front of the Dallas Cowboys practice facility was being dismantled Tuesday.

While that work was only for landscaping purposes, the concentration inside was putting the pieces back together for an offense with questions about quarterback Troy Aikman's health and without big-play receiver Joey Galloway.

The Cowboys hope to make a decision Wednesday on Aikman's playing status, but were approaching things as if Randall Cunningham would be this week's starter.

Coach Dave Campo said Aikman, who was knocked out of the season-opening 41-14 loss to Philadelphia with the ninth concussion of his 12-year NFL career, was feeling better Tuesday. But he also indicated, without elaborating, that the quarterback still had some symptoms.

``I don't want to give any hopes of where he is at because it will be a day-to-day thing,'' Campo said. ``But he feels very comfortable. He said he felt better than he had hoped to feel at this point.''

There has been a decision made on replacing Galloway, the $42 million receiver who tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the closing minutes against Philadelphia. James McKnight, who missed all of last season with the same injury, will take his place in the starting lineup.

Aikman missed two games last season after sustaining two concussions in eight days. Campo said it was too early to say if Aikman would miss Sunday's game at Arizona, but also said the Cowboys were preparing as if he would.

``We are certainly going about our business today as if Randall Cunningham is going to be our starting quarterback. That is the smart thing to do and the way we have to approach it,'' Campo said. ``We don't want to be in a situation where we are trying to make a decision on that on Friday.''

Campo said the decision on Aikman's status likely would be made after the players return to practice Wednesday following a day off.

``It will be a group decision, Troy being the biggest decision-maker in there. But it will not be just Troy,'' Campo said. ``We have to look at things from a health standpoint of the player, of the doctors and of our consideration.''

If Aikman doesn't play, Cunningham will start for the first time since last October. After an All-Pro season in 1998, he started the first six games in 1999 for Minnesota before losing the job to Jeff George, and getting his only other action late in the Vikings' 27-10 NFC wild card game victory over Dallas.

While Campo said the game plan would not be as extensive with Cunningham as for Aikman, he would add some things to take advantage of Cunningham's ability to scramble.

``We feel Randall Cunningham can win football games for us. He is really not any different from a physical standpoint and a talent standpoint than he was two years ago,'' Campo said.

McKnight led the team in the preseason with 10 catches for 190 yards, including a 58-yard reception, then had just one catch for 9 yards in the season opener.

``We feel like he has done a good job to this point in recovering from his situation a year ago,'' Campo said. ``We have seen big-play ability out of James, and we feel he can step in and do what we need done.''