Henson still future QB, Parcells focused on present
Friday, November 26th 2004, 6:42 pm
By: News On 6
IRVING, Texas (AP) _ Drew Henson is still the Dallas Cowboys' quarterback of the future.
While Bill Parcells was forced to start Henson on Thursday, benching him at halftime proved the future isn't here just yet. In fact, there's no guarantee Henson will start again anytime soon.
``I know everybody's been clamoring and fans are booing and all that,'' Parcells said. ``I really don't care, so I'm going to do what I think's best.''
In the coach's mind, that's trying to win now for the Cowboys (4-7).
So with the Chicago Bears blitzing, Henson struggling and the game tied, Vinny Testaverde _ supposedly not healthy enough to start _ took over after halftime. Testaverde went 9-of-14 for 92 yards with an interception and the go-ahead touchdown in a 21-7 win.
Owner and general manager Jerry Jones leaves on-field decisions to Parcells. But like the fans who booed when the 41-year-old Testaverde took over, the owner found it hard to cover his disappointment that Henson didn't finish the game with fellow rookie Julius Jones, who ran for 150 yards and two touchdowns.
``We cannot let that potential escape,'' Jones said. ``I would want to see us have a game like that, ideally with Julius Jones having the night he had with a young quarterback in there.''
But Henson handing off to Julius Jones on a regular basis will apparently have to wait.
Parcells has plenty of time to decide who will start a week from Monday at Seattle. He didn't say who it would be, but his in-game decision and postgame comments indicate he'll stick with Testaverde.
``I've got a pretty good idea, but let me just look at the film and we'll see what happens,'' Parcells said after the game, his last meeting with the media until Monday. ``I'll let you know next week.''
Parcells indicated last week he might not play Henson this season unless forced to use him, which happened Sunday.
Testaverde left the Baltimore game with a sore shoulder after a hard hit in the fourth quarter. Henson took over, overcoming a fumble on his first snap to complete all six passes for 47 yards and the only Cowboys touchdown in a 30-10 loss.
Testaverde was limited during the short week, and even before the game, because of the shoulder and back spasms. So Henson got most of the snaps in practice and started against the Bears.
Seemingly picking up where he left off the game before, Henson led an opening five-play, 62-yard TD drive against the Bears. But by halftime, with the game tied 7-7, Henson was 4-of-12 for 31 yards and an interception, returned 45 yards by R.W. McQuarters for the lone Bears touchdown.
``I would liked to have had a chance to come back and win the game, but that wasn't my call,'' Henson said. ``There were a couple of throws I'd like to have back. ... Listen, I've played one half and one drive in the NFL, and I have confidence in myself that I can play in this game.''
Henson's last start at quarterback had been for Michigan in the Citrus Bowl on Jan. 1, 2001, before he played three summers of professional baseball.
``I'm glad he got a little live action. Hopefully he'll grow from there. But right now, he needs a lot of work,'' Parcells said. ``That's only a natural thing. The guy hasn't played a lot of football.''
Still, Jerry Jones was ``really surprised'' that Testaverde played. The owner said Testaverde wasn't throwing well before the game and was limited with his throwing motion.
No one was really sure how Testaverde felt after the game. He pulled off a quarterback sneak, leaving the locker room without talking to reporters.