IRVING, Texas (AP) -- Bill Parcells is tough to impress. That's
what makes his gushing over Tyson Thompson almost as spectacular as
the undrafted rookie's performance this summer.
Thompson capped his bid to make the Dallas Cowboys by running
for 57 yards and two touchdowns, including the winning points in a
27-20 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars in the preseason finale
The hometown kid was returning to the bench when Parcells called
him over, tapped him on the head and told him he'll be suiting up
next weekend for the opener in San Diego.
"I was just overwhelmed," Thompson said. "I felt like I was
floating a little bit."
Thompson will become the first player raised in Irving to make
the club. The team brought him in for a visit on its "Dallas day"
scouting event and he wound up distinguishing himself despite a
crop of runners that also featured starter Julius Jones, veteran
acquisition Anthony Thomas and fourth-round pick Marion Barber III,
whose roster spot may now be in jeopardy.
"He's a threat, so we're going to take him," Parcells said.
"Quite a story. I'm proud of him."
The Cowboys (3-1) jumped ahead 10-0 with Drew Bledsoe, Jones and
the rest of the first-string offense having their way with
Jacksonville's second-team defense. The Jaguars (2-2) got a 14-yard
touchdown pass from Byron Leftwich to Reggie Williams -- only the
second TD in four preseason games by their starters -- then things
got tight once the game became a battle of backups.
Jacksonville went ahead 17-13, then Thompson scored from the 1
to put Dallas back in front late in the third quarter. After the
Jags tied it at 20 on a field goal, Thompson gained 43 of 61 yards
on the winning drive. He had runs of 3 and 20 yards and 15-yard
reception, followed by a 5-yard touchdown in which he kept churning
his legs after running into a pile of blockers.
Both teams came out of the game with the most important thing --
no injuries. Jacksonville coach Jack Del Rio was so careful that he
sat nearly the entire starting defense and starting running back
Fred Taylor. Leftwich led just two drives, taking a total of seven
"The important thing is to come out healthy for a 16-game
season," Del Rio said. "At the same time, we have to be true to
the evaluation process and give our backups some playing time. So
it was a valuable time for us."
Dallas opened the game by feeding the ball to Jones and he
responded with 75 yards on 11 carries. His early success helped
Bledsoe hit his first seven passes, including a 40-yarder to Terry
Glenn for a touchdown on the opening drive.
The second series went 68 yards to the Jacksonville 8, with the
Cowboys settling for a field goal, then most of the offensive stars
calling it a night.
With both teams in low-key modes, the game drew a sparse crowd,
although it included about 100 people from the Tulane football team
as guests of the Cowboys. The squad is living in Dallas after
fleeing New Orleans to avoid Hurricane Katrina.
A moment of silence was held prior to kickoff in honor of storm
victims and the team encouraged donations to the Salvation Army
throughout the local TV and radio broadcasts. The Cowboys also said
they are preparing a major fund-raiser tied to their Sept. 19 home
opener, a Monday night game against Washington that also will
feature the Ring of Honor induction of Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith
and Michael Irvin.
Another interesting member of the crowd was free-agent receiver
Peerless Price, who was waived this week by Atlanta. Price had his
best year while playing in Buffalo with Bledsoe. Price watched the
second half from the luxury suite of Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and
is scheduled to meet with club officials Friday morning.
Tony Romo, practically a lock to be Dallas' backup quarterback,
was 8-of-13 for 91 yards in two-plus quarters. Thomas had 64 yards
on 11 carries and 28 yards on three catches in his bid to solidify
himself as Jones' backup.
In the battle for Dallas' kicking job, Jose Cortez made a
26-yarder and newly acquired Nick Novak hit from 49 but missed from
40. ... The Jaguars struggled to run the ball. Alvin Pearman had
nine carries for 26 yards and Derrick Wimbush had a team-high 58 --
55 on one play.