Emmitt Smith Looks Forward to More Carries

Friday, October 29th 2004, 7:16 am
By: News On 6

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) _ On a rare drizzly day in the Arizona desert, Emmitt Smith was as upbeat as he's been all season. Breaking another of Walter Payton's rushing records can have that effect. So can the prospect of getting more carries.

``That's no big deal for me. I've been there,'' the NFL's career rushing leader said Thursday about coach Dennis Green's plan to get him the ball more often.

Smith topped Payton's career yardage record in 2002, his last season with Dallas. An injury last year limited him to 10 games and 259 yards, but both his and Arizona's fortunes have dramatically improved this season.

On Sunday, Smith had his second 100-yard game in three weeks to lead the Cardinals to a 25-17 win over the Seattle Seahawks. It was the 78th of his career, one more than Payton.

Not surprisingly, the Cardinals (2-4) have won both times Smith has gained over 100 yards. With 459 yards in six games, Smith is on pace for his 12th 1,000-yard season in 15 years, which would make him a strong candidate for the league's Comeback Player of the Year award.

``It depends what the criteria is, but we feel that Emmitt's ability to go over 1,000 yards is tied into our ability to be successful as a football team, our ability to get the running game going and then get the passes that come off the running game,'' Green said. ``I think if we give him the holes and the blocking, he's clearly shown he can do that.''

The Cardinals travel to face teams with worse records _ Buffalo (1-5) and Miami (1-6) _ the next two Sundays. But Arizona has lost an NFL-high 16 straight on the road, and Smith didn't want to raise expectations.

``They're not giving up a whole lot of nothing,'' Smith said about the Bills' defense. ``They probably should be grading a whole lot higher. They play very sound defense, very, very aggressive defense. I've seen this style before. This style reminds me of San Diego back in the early to mid '90s.''

He said having wide receiver Anquan Boldin, last year's NFL offensive rookie of the year, back after knee surgery might help loosen up the run defense, but noted that the weather at Ralph Wilson Stadium could be an equalizer.

``It's a pro-style turf situation, so once that turf gets wet, it can get slick,'' Smith said. ``But they have to play in the same weather we play in, so it's really not that big an issue.''

Tight end Freddie Jones said he thought the offenses would have an advantage knowing the direction of plays. But Smith, speaking for all instinctive runners, doubted that ball carriers would have an edge.

``You can know where you want to go, but if your legs can't get you there, you're on the ground,'' he said.

Smith showed the effects of his 13 mostly glorious years with the Cowboys, saying he hopes the franchise gets a new stadium and backing former Cowboys receiver Bob Hayes, an 1964 Olympic dash champion, for inclusion in the Hall of Fame.

``He's the one who made them bring in the zone defense and stuff like that, because you can't cover a guy like him man-to-man,'' Smith said. ``Give him some credit for the things that he's done. When a coach changes the game, they get recognized for that, so recognize the player for what he did and give him his just due. I mean, there's plenty of room up there anyway.''