Darren Benson is one player coaches will watch closely in today's annual Blue-White intra-squad scrimmage at Nelson Field. Benson is an intriguing prospect who was selected in the third round of Friday's supplemental draft.
Benson, 6-7, 310, started his career at Arkansas State but never played there. He compiled 14 sacks in two seasons at Trinity Valley (Texas) Community College.
"We don't expect him to play this year, but if that guy is good enough to make our football team that allows us to move (Hurvin) McCormack to end, his natural position," said Dallas coach Barry Switzer. "(Benson) looks good in pads, but to say a 20-year-old can make our team, you don't know what will happen when we go 11-on-11. " Since the Cowboys own several compensatory picks next year for losing free agents Mark Stepnoski, Alvin Harper and James Washington, they felt it wasn't much of a gamble to forfeit a future third-round pick to get Benson.
"We call him the big oak tree," Switzer said. "What's amazing to me is the kid's flexibility for someone that big. When he warmed up he looked like (Jay) Novacek stretching. . . (Scouting director) Larry Lacewell knew a lot about him because he recruited him. "
Safe Not Sorry
Before Saturday's practice, Switzer had a brief one-on-one chat with Brock Marion, who has been given the opportunity to inherit the starting job at free safety.
"I'd rather a safety be passive and not make mistakes than be aggressive and create mistakes," said Switzer, who feels James Washington took too many chances last season. "The safety is the last line of defense. . . I just told him to be cautious and gave him some advice on how to play the position. " Defensive coordinator Dave Campo agrees with Switzer but doesn't know if "passive" is the word he would use.
"We don't want riverboat gamblers. Discipline is very important," Campo said. "I don't think we want passive guys, but we do want guys who are smart and play within themselves. "
Hot and Heavy
Temperatures have reached 99 degrees during the first two days of training camp. Most players dread muggy, sweaty two-a-days, but wide receiver Michael Irvin feels differently.
"I love camp. It's a time where we all get away from our families," Irvin said. "I eat, sleep, everything with these guys. .
. It's a time of camaraderie.
"It's like (offensive coordinator) Ernie Zampese said, 'You're depending upon the next man. ' You're leaning on his shoulder to see how strong his back is. It's here where we find out who has the strong backs and who we can lean on. "
Williams Offered Extension
Dallas owner Jerry Jones is so confident All-Pro tackle Erik Willams will recover fully from a knee injury he suffered in an automobile accident last October that the Cowboys are offering a three-year contract extension.
If a new deal can be worked out, Jones said it might free up an additional $400,000 that could be used to sign Deion Sanders or be earmarked for contract discussions with Darren Woodson, Leon Lett and Kevin Smith, who are in the final year of their contracts.
Williams' current deal runs through 1996. Williams counts $1.425 million against the 1995 salary cap, but Jones said a three-year extension could lower his '95 salary to under $1 million.
Defensive tackle Leon Lett suffered a pulled hamstring Saturday, but the injury doesn't appear to be serious. . .
Linebacker Linc Harden, a rookie from Oklahoma State, did not practice Saturday due to a bruised shoulder. BIOG: NAME:Archive ID: 618262