OXNARD, Calif. (AP) – Now that the Dallas Cowboys have gone through two weeks of training camp and a preseason game, coach Bill Parcells has plenty more information about his team.

Information, however, doesn’t mean answers. At least not yet.

Two of the biggest dilemmas the Cowboys brought to California – settling the offensive line and figuring out when to use the 4-3 and 3-4 defensive alignments – are still in the experiment phase and likely will be for about another week and a half.

“I got problems here, I got problems there,” Parcells said Monday. “I’m trying to get mentally organized.”

Parcells wants to make some decisions by the third preseason game, which is a week from Saturday at home against Houston. That leaves the rest of this week, which includes the end of training camp and a game against Seattle for further information-gathering.

Parcells is especially concerned with the center and right tackle spots. Incumbent Al Johnson and Andre Gurode are battling at center, while right tackle is open.

Jacob Rogers, a second-round pick in 2004, came into camp as the favorite even though he struggled adapting to the right side last year after playing left tackle in college. His chances have been hurt by injuries, first to the same shoulder in which he had offseason surgery, then to a knee injury sustained in the 13-11 loss to Arizona on Saturday night.

He missed practice Monday morning, instead riding a stationary bicycle alongside Rivera. Rivera is getting a few days off to rehabilitate a lingering hamstring injury “so it doesn’t turn into something we don’t want it to,” Parcells said.

“We have to get him back out there and try to give him another chance to see what he can do,” Parcells said of Rogers. “The fact of the matter is this: If you can’t participate, I can’t get any evidence that you’re capable.”

Rob Petitti, a sixth-round draft pick, replaced Rogers against the Cardinals and “did all right,” according to Parcells. Petitti will get more opportunities in practice this week.

Other candidates include Torrin Tucker, who started the first 13 games last season, and Kurt Vollers, who started the last three after Tucker was benched. Parcells said Larry Allen may eventually become a candidate. Parcells also said he has a list of available players he’d consider signing, but he’d only turn to it if he’s “convinced we couldn’t solve the problem from within.”

Quarterback Drew Bledsoe is hoping it gets settled soon.

“You need those guys to work together on a continuous basis and really know each other,” he said. “The more we can have those guys working together as a unit, the better off we’re going to be.”

The same could be said about the defensive front, although that remains more of a work in progress.

Parcells spent the offseason adding players suited for the 3-4 alignment, but he recognizes that guys like La’Roi Glover and Greg Ellis are better off in the 4-3. So the Cowboys plan to use both schemes – and it’s up to Parcells to figure out how much to use each.

Parcells said he expects to have five defensive backs up to 40 percent of the time, so he’s trying to decide how to divvy up that extra 60 percent.

Should it be 30-30? 40-20? 50-10? And when it is imbalanced, will the majority be the four-man front or the three-man front?

“That’s exactly what I’m trying to do – figure out, OK, how are we going to deploy this defense?” Parcells said.

After using the 3-4 more last week, Parcells plans to go heavy on the 4-3 this week. He’s also trying to devise a scheme that keeps six of the seven players the same in hopes of confusing offenses. He figures it also will be easier for his players to adapt.

AP-ES-08-15-05 2020EDT


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