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Parcells gets his kind of linebackers

Nick Eatman is talking linebackers, a position that is vital to the 3-4 defense. The Cowboys have made an effort to add new starters and much needed depth to a unit that got banged up last year. DeMarcus Ware and Bradie James will start again this year, but the other two spots are likely to see new personnel on the field. First round draft pick Bobby Carpenter will battle last year's starter Al Singelton for the SOLB position and free agent Akin Ayodele is the likely starter at the WILB.

The Cowboys for years had operated on the faster is better principle at linebacker leading to a unit that was Smurf-like in proportions. Dat Nguyen retired after a great run at MLB but his body gave out after years of pounding. Dexter Coakley was sent packing a couple of years ago as Bill Parcells started the transformation to his kind of linebacking unit.

Obviously he was on to something with this size thing. To play the 3-4, which exposes linebackers to more one-on-one confrontations with the bigger offensive linemen, a defense certainly needs big linebackers.

Last year, as the Cowboys made the move from their traditional 4-3 defense to the 3-4, they had five linebackers finish the season on injured reserve. From the start of the regular season to the final week of the year, the Cowboys kept losing linebackers, including two Week-One starters.

This year will be the first year in Dallas that Parcells has his kind of players at linebacker, and this should be a new defense. Not that the Cowboys were running a bad defense out there in the past, far from it, but this year the linebackers will be tailored to run the 3-4 defense. Expect big things out of this unit which has sufficient depth to fill-in for any injuries and should help the special teams as well. Rocky Boiman is a special teams ace, and Kevin Burnett will need to show that his injuries are behind him as he backs-up Ware on the outside.

Good news, my Cowboys brethren. No, make that really good news. It looks like stud TE Jason Witten is on the verge of signing a new long-term contract.

Witten said Thursday he is close to signing a contract extension with the team, possibly within a few days.

"I am hopeful that everything will get taken care of in the next few days," said Witten, who was conducting a Cowboys clinic at the Grapevine Academy Sports and Outdoors. "I would love to be in Dallas. I think we have a good thing going with coach [Bill] Parcells."

It will be great news once pen meets paper and Witten is assured of wearing the star for years to come.

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