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Jaime Aron takes a look at some ex-Cowboys returning to Dallas tonight in the uniform of the 49ers.

[Antonio] Bryant was so intent on making a good impression on Parcells that he underwent hand surgery one morning in Dallas, then flew to San Antonio and suited up for an afternoon practice during training camp.

But Bryant couldn't get ahead of Terry Glenn and Keyshawn Johnson on Parcells' depth chart and wasn't happy about it. During a minicamp before his second season for Parcells, Bryant threw a tantrum that he punctuated by flinging his dirty laundry at the coach.

Security ushered him away and he eventually wound up in Cleveland. A breakout season for the Browns last year earned Bryant a big contract in San Francisco.

I remember at the time there was a lot of chirping from some Cowboys' fans that Bryant was the better receiver and should be starting. The story was Glenn and Keyshawn were too old, and it was time to go with youth. Once again, Parcells shows why he's the coach, because Bryant still isn't a better receiver than Glenn or Key, and they're even older, now.

Also coming back, the great Larry Allen.

Allen's return likely will evoke a more passionate reaction from Cowboys fans. He's the most-decorated lineman in team history and was the final link to the championship teams of the mid-1990s until getting released earlier this year for salary cap purposes.

"It's just another game, really," Allen said. "It was cool. I loved it there."

Allen was still Dallas' best blocker last year. Replacing him is among many concerns for the line this preseason. Others include the health of left tackle Flozell Adams and a three-way battle at right tackle.

How strange will it be to see Allen in another uniform?

Keith Davis underwent surgery to remove the bullet from his leg.

Cowboys starting free safety Keith Davis had surgery Friday to remove the bullet that's been lodged in his thigh since a July 16 shooting, several sources said.

He most likely will miss tonight's preseason game against San Francisco, but he should be ready to play in the season opener against Jacksonville on Sept. 10.

Keith better be looking over his shoulder, because this will be the second straight start for Pat Watkins. This will give Parcells plenty of time to evaluate Watkins against 1st team opposition, and could endanger Davis' starting role. Keep and eye out tonight for Watkins and see how his performance rates.

The offensive line is a touchy subject in Dallas. Opinions vary widely on how good they'll be. So far, in my breakdowns of game film from the two preseason games, they've played OK, with the pass protection being slightly better than the run blocking. We still have the problem of moving parts not allowing whoever starts to play together as a unit for any significant amount of time.

Kosier and Adams have had less than a half of work together in the preseason. They have spent time in meetings trying to accelerate the learning curve so that by the time the season starts, they can turn a quick look into a knowing nod.

"When you know what the other person is seeing, that helps," Kosier said. "I'm hopeful Flo and I will get it down."

Rivera does not know if Colombo, Jason Fabini or Rob Petitti (last year's starter) will be the right tackle.

"You get a feel for his body language, his playing style," Rivera said, "so you develop this tight-knit group even if it's a pass or a run."

Mike Zimmer could become a hot property if the defense performs up to their talent-level this year.

Should Parcells retire at season's end, the obvious in-house candidate will be Zimmer. And should the Cowboys' defense do as expected and finish near the top of the league, Zimmer undoubtedly will be listed among the handful of "hot assistants" who are rumored to be the next coach of this team or that team.

"You just never know what the organizations will think. I think I'm ready," Zimmer said. "I think we have a chance to be good. I really do. I'm not downplaying it. But I'm reluctant to say we're going to for two reasons. One, I haven't seen us against different competition yet. And the other reason is I've been around talented teams that don't play well. And I've been on less-talented teams that do play well."

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