By DARRELL FRY
© St. Petersburg Times,
published September 9, 2001
Former Pasco High running back Troy Hambrick earned a spot on the Cowboys' active roster this season after spending his rookie year on the practice squad.
Hambrick, who joins brother Darren, a Cowboys linebacker, led the team in rushing in the preseason, getting action while Emmitt Smith rested.
Hambrick (6 feet 1, 235 pounds) had 31 carries for 182 yards, a 5.9 average. He also had two touchdowns. Those are impressive numbers when you consider he played a lot against opponents' starters. Another thing that worked in Hambrick's favor is that he can play running back and fullback.
Coach Dave Campo has been impressed.
"He's one of the surprises, in my mind," Campo said. "He really has made himself into a very physical runner who has deceptive speed. He's a big man who runs pretty fast. He's done everything that we hoped."
TWO THUMBS TOGETHER FOR CARTER: Among the many difficulties rookie quarterback Quincy Carter has experienced is handling the snap from center. Carter botched four snaps during the preseason, drawing concern from Campo.
To combat the problem, Carter interlocks his thumbs as he takes the snap to help keep his hands close together.
"We're still working on that aspect of his game," Campo said. "No question we have to get that cleared up."
WHAT'S BUGGING BRAD?: The Cowboys traditionally have had trouble defending quarterback Brad Johnson. In three games against Dallas, Johnson is 73 for 117 (62.4 percent) for 841 yards, five touchdowns and one interception.
But the Cowboys won all three games.
"I've never beaten Dallas," Johnson said. "I've been close. I should have beaten them a couple of times, but I haven't done it. So it's a big game."
OH NO, NOT HIM AGAIN: Suffice to say, Cowboys cornerback Kareem Larrimore probably wouldn't last more than a few weeks on a team with coach Tony Dungy. The second-year player has made a home in the Cowboys' doghouse.
He has been fined 11 times and was suspended for the final two preseason games and today's regular-season opener for missing curfew before a preseason game in Mexico City.
Since May, he has forfeited $58,929.41 in fines and bonus money for skipping offseason workouts, blowing curfews and showing up late for training camp.
The Cowboys have hinted that if he gets into more trouble, he could be suspended for the season. Apparently that has gotten Larrimore's attention.
"They are being patient, but they are letting me know it's time to get my stuff together. And now they are talking about suspending me for the season. That means I can't play football. I can't have that," Larrimore said. "I have to grow up. I've been acting this way for 25 years, from a youngster to now."
WATCH THOSE HANDS: The Cowboys led the league last season in penalties for illegal use of the hands and grabbing the face mask.
The illegal use of the hands penalty was called 122 times and the Cowboys were guilty of it 12 times. Of the 79 face mask penalties (the 15-yard variety), the Cowboys had six.
EMMITT WATCH: Running back Emmitt Smith, third on the all-time career rushing yardage list, needs 104 yards to pass former Detroit running back Barry Sanders for second place.
Smith has gone past the 100-yard mark once against Tampa Bay.
HOME COOKING: For what it's worth, the Cowboys are 29-11-1 in their first home game of the season and 14-5-1 when opening the season at home.
The last time the Cowboys played the Bucs in a home opener (1980), the Cowboys won 28-17.
-- Compiled by staff writer Darrell Fry using information from other news organizations.