July 21, 2000 - by
Cowboys Rookie Cornerback Mario Edwards Talks A Good Game; Can He Play One, Too?

July 21, 2000




By JAIME ARON
AP Sports Writer

WICHITA FALLS, Texas (AP) – If rookie cornerback Mario Edwards can
cover as
well as he entertains, the Dallas Cowboys will have the steal of the
draft.

The sixth-round pick from Florida State is continuing the loud-talking,
showboating ways of another former Seminoles cornerback, Deion Sanders.

He’s dared Troy Aikman to throw his way and begged to cover Joey
Galloway
and Raghib Ismail. Shoelaces dangle from the waist of his shorts to his
knees,
symbolizing the lassos he hopes to throw around receivers.

“When I came to Texas, some people told me I was going to have to learn
how
to be a cowboy and rope steer,” Edwards said. “That don’t work out for me
too
good, so I thought I’d bring them out here for these wide receivers.”

Everything Edwards does is in the name of fun. He insists he’s not
trying to
offend anyone, just pump himself up and keep things lighthearted for those
around him.

“Early on, T.A., Troy Aikman, told me to tone it down a little bit,”
Edwards said. “But I told him I don’t mean nothing personal by it, it’s
just
my way of motivating myself. Since then, they just let me go with it.

“If I’m playing well that way, I’ve got to keep it going. It’s what
works
for me.”

Edwards has repeatedly been told that his antics are fine as long as he
can
back it up on the field – like Sanders.

“If he’s going to do all the talking, he’d better do the technique and
fundamentals my way and do it correctly each and every time,” said
defensive
coordinator Mike Zimmer. “If not, he’s going to have problems because then
he’s just out there talking.”

Edwards has shown flashes of talent and plenty of personality in
one-on-one
drills.

After tipping a pass from Jason Tucker, Zimmer screams advice. Edwards
nods
several times, then cuts him off, saying, “I gotcha coach, I gotcha.”

“You’re going to get more of me than you want,” Zimmer growls back.

On his next try, Edwards is left a step behind when Wane McGarity
breaks
inside. The pass is a bit beyond McGarity’s reach and Edwards ensures the
receiver won’t snag it by grabbing the back of his jersey.

“Get on his upfield shoulder,” Zimmer says.

“Yeah, yeah,” Edwards answers.

The last play is a deep route by Ismail. Edwards stays with the
speedster
step for step down the sideline, leaps and tips the ball away cleanly.
Ismail
shoves Edwards in the back as the other cornerbacks clap and cheer.

Edwards celebrates by yelling, “There ain’t no tax on European
dollars!”
which he later explains is an inside joke between him and Zimmer about the
high
tax rate in this country.

Edwards’ style is contagious. Several other cornerbacks have copied the
shoelace trick and even Aikman admires the kid’s spunk.

“That kind of enthusiasm is good for those of us who have been around
for a
while,” Aikman said. “But sometimes when he’s trying to do that, Joey’s
running by him. So there’s a little give and take.”

At 6-foot and 190 pounds, Edwards is lanky like Sanders yet not as
fast.
His
cockiness and tendency to get beat for big plays caused him to slide in
the
draft, but Edwards treats the snub with the short memory needed to excel
at
cornerback.

“If you get beat, you’ve got to line back up and play again,” he said.
“It’s like taking a foul in basketball, the guy lines up and shoots free
throws, then you play the game all over again.”

The Cowboys are going through major changes in the secondary, starting
with
the loss of Sanders. Neither starting job is set and Zimmer has even
talked of
using a rotation.

“I consider myself very fortunate,” said Edwards, who was proud to be
the
first of Dallas’ six draft picks to sign his contract. “I’m in a great
position. I’ve just got to capitalize on it.”

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