Another homecoming for Parcells _ sort of

Updated: October 16, 2003, 4:39 PM ET

IRVING, Texas -- Dallas Cowboys coach Bill Parcells has another homecoming this weekend. Well, sort of.

Although Parcells never coached the Detroit Lions, he was drafted by them. The Lions took Parcells with the 89th pick in the 1964 draft. He didn't make the team, though.

"I wasn't good enough," said Parcells, a tackle at Colgate and Wichita State.

How long did he last?

"Long enough to know I wasn't good enough," he said.

The failure wasn't all that bad for Parcells. He instead began his coaching career as a defensive assistant at Hastings College in Nebraska.

"In those days, the economic advantages of playing were not that great," he said. "I was wanting to be a coach and I got a coaching job offer that year. That was really good for me. It worked out well for me.

"Life takes funny turns, and that was. I look at it as a fortunate turn for me that it headed me more quickly to what turned out to be my profession."

Parcells is in his 35th season as a coach, his 20th in the NFL. He has coached for 12 pro or college teams. He won two Super Bowls with the New York Giants, took the New England Patriots to the Super Bowl and got the New York Jets to the AFC championship.

So far his homecomings have gone well. The Cowboys won consecutive games at the Meadowlands, beating the Giants and Jets to start their four-game winning streak.

They play at New England on Nov. 16. They've also played Atlanta and next week will play Tampa Bay, two teams that Parcells came close to coaching.<

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^RESTED OPPONENTS:@ Dallas opponents are getting a break -- right before playing the Cowboys.

Detroit, their foe Sunday, starts a run of four teams in five weeks that will be coming off an open date. So will Washington, Buffalo and New England. The only exception is Tampa Bay, a week from Sunday.

"We've got four teams that have two weeks to get ready for us ... that's 25 percent of our schedule," Parcells said. "I'm not involved in the schedule-making, obviously. You obviously can prepare for a team better with two weeks than one."

The Cowboys certainly did. After beating the Giants, they had a weekend off before a win over the Jets.<

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^TOUGH TROY:@: Troy Hambrick has rushed for 345 yards in his first five games as Emmitt Smith's replacement. Those numbers aren't overwhelming, but Hambrick has proven himself as a blocker picking up the blitz.

"When they come, it doesn't make any difference how big they are, he'll block them or he'll make a strong attempt to block them," coach Bill Parcells said. "That's part of the reason Quincy's staying on his feet, because Troy will block."

Parcells ranks Hambrick alongside Maurice Carthon as the best blocking back he's coached. Carthon, now Dallas' offensive coordinator, was a fullback for Parcells' two Super Bowl winners with the New York Giants.

Parcells is so impressed with that ability that he said Thursday he's considering using Hambrick as a fullback next season.

"It's crossed my mind," Parcells said. "I'm not saying that is what I would do, but it's not a bad idea. It's in the blender, I'll tell you that."

Hambrick chafed at the role the last two seasons, especially when forced into it last year. He's likely to be event more resentful after having a taste of tailback this season. Then again, his fondness for Parcells -- and whatever reality he discovers in free agency -- could end up making him more receptive.

Quarterback Quincy Carter has been sacked 11 times, just four in the last three games.

"He has the blitzes down cold. He knows whether they are coming or not," Carter said. "His mental game is really starting to develop."<

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^RANDAL? ZURIEL? BOTH?:@ Randal Williams returned Philadelphia's attempted onside kick 37 yards for a touchdown to start last Sunday's game. Zuriel Smith's 54-yard kickoff return set up the game-winning field goal.

But coach Bill Parcells could be forced to choose between them if he has room for only four receivers on his active roster Sunday.

The Cowboys last week were without two tight ends: Jason Witten (broken jaw) and James Whalen, a key special teams player who had a strained leg muscle. If both return this week -- which Parcells said Thursday is possible -- Parcells probably won't have both Williams and Smith active.

Williams' big play helped him become the NFC special teams player of the week as chosen by the NFL. Billy Cundiff won it when he made an NFL-record seven field goals in an overtime win over the Giants.

The onside return also was nominated for the NFL Play of the Week, as voted on by fans at NFL.com.<

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^QUOTABLE:@ "We're in a very mentally taxing time of the season because the novelty of the season has worn off. You're into your second month. You don't see light at the end of the tunnel. You don't see, 'If we do this and this, we're going to be here.' You don't see any of that now. You're just driving the train and you're in the dark tunnel and you can't see anything. You've just got to drive." -- coach Bill Parcells.<

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^EXTRA POINTS:@ Center Matt Lehr has started all five games, but he's sharing time with Gennaro DiNapoli, a 16-game starter for Tennessee last year who signed during training camp. Parcells likes the rotation. "I don't think there's a lot of difference between the players," he said. ... Detroit has a 9-8 series lead, making it one of seven teams that can make that claim against the Cowboys. The others: Baltimore, Cleveland, Houston, Miami, Oakland and San Francisco. ... Bubble-burster: The Cowboys haven't beaten a team with a winning record. Their five opponents so far are a combined 7-20. Their only loss was to a team that hasn't beaten anyone else.

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index

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