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Cowboys, Broncos Get Going

August 28, 1999

IRVING, Texas (AP) _ The Denver Broncos and Dallas Cowboys should have powerful offensives this season. They just haven’t shown them yet.

Each team’s first unit had nine drives over three exhibition games and each scored one touchdown. It’s not much cause for panic, but it is a slump both teams would like to shake out of Sunday night when the starters get their last extended look of the preseason.

Denver and Dallas will both stick with their first teams throughout the first half.

``Everybody talks about how good or bad a team looks in preseason and it really doesn’t matter,″ Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman said. ``We’re evaluating players, seeing which guys are doing what and how aggressive they’re playing and whether they know their assignments.″

An offensive fade was behind Dallas’ 2-4 skid to end last season and many of the problems were addressed in the offseason. So far, there’s been little improvement.

Aikman ended three drives by fumbling a snap and throwing two interceptions. Fellow starters haven’t helped, committing five penalties for 45 yards.

``We’re not looking at results so much,″ Aikman said. ``We’re working on a lot of different things.″

Cowboys coach Chan Gailey, who is 0-8 in exhibition games over two summers, is looking for improvement more than a victory.

``If it goes great, we don’t need to pat ourselves on the back and say we’re a lock for the Super Bowl,″ Gailey said. ``We know we have work to do no matter what.″

Denver is 2-1 this preseason but its only score from the first team was a 3-yard touchdown run by Derek Loville in the second game. Despite the drought, the two-time Super Bowl champions aren’t worried.

``So what?″ receiver Rod Smith said. ``It’s not like we’re not going to score any touchdowns. Just right now, it’s a feeling-out process.″

John Elway could brush off his August critics the way Aikman is, but it’s not as easy for Elway’s successor, Bubby Brister. He’s made himself an easy target by throwing interceptions on the first play of Denver’s first and third games.

Brister fully understands the pressure he’s facing and hopes that more playing time Sunday will give him a better chance to get comfortable.

``We moved the ball pretty well in every game, but we just shot ourselves in the foot,″ Brister said. ``We need to get in there and score and finish off drives and gain some confidence.″

One way of doing that would be by giving the ball to Terrell Davis as much as possible.

``I’m looking forward to that, seeing where I am as far as my stamina and whether I can go a half down there in the hot Dallas weather,″ he said. ``It should be a good test for us.″

Brister will be relieved by Brian Griese. Chris Miller will miss a third straight game with tendinitis in his throwing elbow.

The injury report is improving for the Cowboys as receiver Raghib Ismail, offensive linemen Everett McIver and Tony Hutson and cornerback Charlie Williams are expected to get into their first games of the summer. Running back Chris Warren should be back after missing the New England game.

Dallas also will be keeping a close watch on how veteran Alonzo Spellman handles his first full-time gig at defensive tackle. The lifelong end moved inside this week as an experiment.

The Cowboys still won’t have linebacker Quentin Coryatt (Achilles’ tendon) or cornerback Kevin Smith (bulging disk).

While both teams will use the first two quarters to evaluate their overall progress, the second half will be final auditions for reserves fighting to stick around past Tuesday, when rosters are cut to 65 players.

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