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Brice still battling adversity

August 12, 1997

AUSTIN (AP) _ For Dallas Cowboys cornerback Alundis Brice, coming back from a ruptured kneecap doesn’t even register as adversity.

Throw in the fact that the kneecap blew out as he was pushing leg weights to rehab a torn anterior cruciate ligament suffered in his second start for Dallas last December against Arizona and Brice still doesn’t feel sorry for himself.

For Brice, in his third year as a pro out of Mississippi, adversity has been a matter of life and death.

He recalls his father battling courageously against cancer before finally succumbing to the disease two years ago.

And he still wakes up suddenly, haunted by having been shot in the chest after trying to break up an on-campus altercation at Ole Miss in the spring following his senior season.

The bullet barely missed his heart and left him hospitalized for 11 days, including two in critical condition.

``My father fought until he died,″ Brice said. ``I’m going to fight until I can’t fight no more. If I thought that I wanted to give up, I would have given up when I got shot. This is nothing compared to coming out of that hospital bed.″

On Sunday, he put on pads for the first time and practiced in drills that didn’t involve the offense.

After practices, he runs sprints connected to a tether held by trainers for resistance.

The Cowboys medical staff says Brice is on schedule to be ready, if needed, for the season opener at Pittsburgh on Aug. 31. But to avoid reinjury, he likely won’t participate in a preseason game.

``They are not going to rush me out here because they know if they rush me, and I get hurt again, that’s probably the end of my career and they’ve got nobody else,″ Brice said.

He’s right about that.

Training camp has been brutal to the Cowboys’ backup cornerbacks.

Wendell Davis (knee), who will compete with Brice for the No. 3 position behind starters Kevin Smith and Deion Sanders, is out two to three weeks.

Rookie Kenny Wheaton (shoulder), a third-round draft pick from Oregon, is out four to six weeks.

John Reece, a second-year corner brought into camp after being waived by St. Louis, tore his right Achillies tendon and is likely out for the year.

At different times during camp, all the corners have missed practice time because of injury: Smith (ankle), Artis Houston (thigh bruise) and Kevin Mathis (hamstring).

With Sanders planning to finish out the baseball season with the Cincinnati Reds _ bulging disk in his back and all _ Brice may be the most welcomed player on the field when he returns to full action.

``Come on Alundis,″ owner Jerry Jones yelled after losing three of his cornerbacks to injury in a scrimmage against Oakland on July 31.

``Alundis has got to get healthy,″ coach Barry Switzer said. ``We’ll know if he can give us some quality depth after we see him in action. Hopefully, he’ll be ready before the season opens.″

Defensive coordinator Dave Campo is high on Brice.

``I don’t think he’s been a disappointment,″ Campo said. ``I think he was good enough to play for us last year in a backup role, which is the reason we wanted him in the first place.

``No one is going to beat out Smith and Sanders. He’s a good backup player. The only disappointment is that he got hurt.″

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