Drew Henson starts minicamp
Henson back where better suited: on football field
By STEPHEN HAWKINS, AP Sports Writer
May 1, 2004
IRVING, Texas (AP) -- When Drew Henson started really thinking about what would make him happy, he realized late last summer that it wasn't fielding grounders and struggling to hit curveballs.
He was pursuing the wrong sport.
``As much as I was trying to get to New York and get to the big leagues, I said to myself, `Is this going to make me happy for the next 10 or 12 years?','' Henson said Saturday, the second day of the Dallas Cowboys' rookie minicamp.
``At the same time, the more I thought about football, the more I missed it and thought that as I moved forward with my career, I'm better suited to be a quarterback.''
Henson is finally back on the football field after three mediocre seasons as a minor leaguer in the Yankees' organization, including a .234 batting average with 122 strikeouts and 28 errors at third base in Triple-A last season.
There aren't any defenders rushing him when he throws yet, and he's not even in pads, but Henson is happy to be playing football again. His last game was New Year's Day 2001 in the Citrus Bowl with Michigan.
``It's just nice to get back and put a uniform on and get in the huddle and call plays and get back to some things I feel comfortable with,'' he said.
Henson started working himself back into football shape in November and gave up $12 million to leave the Yankees. The Houston Texans, who owned his rights, traded him to the Cowboys in March.
The quarterback signed an eight-year contract with Dallas that guarantees him $3.5 million and can be voided after four years. Then he started learning his playbook.
Coach Bill Parcells doesn't dismiss the thought of Henson playing this season, but wants to take it slow with the 24-year-old after so much time away.
``My best guess is he's probably going to need a little while. It's like most everybody else,'' Parcells said. ``I just think it's he's getting back in tune. Give him enough opportunity to get back in tune with it and see what he can do.''
Henson is getting plenty of snaps this weekend. The only other quarterback in camp is Brett Mitchell, a rookie free agent signed for a weekend tryout and to provide Henson an occasional break.
Quincy Carter is the incumbent starter at quarterback, and the Cowboys insist nothing has happened to change his role -- yet. Chad Hutchinson, who struggled as a starter in 2002 after ending a four-year pro baseball career to sign with Dallas, is playing in NFL Europe.
But the Cowboys love Henson's size (6-foot-4, 223 pounds) and strong arm. In three seasons at Michigan, he completed 214 of 374 passes (57 percent) for 2,945 yards and 24 touchdowns, but started just eight games, all his junior year, after playing behind Tom Brady.
Henson wants to take things in order, and isn't worried about when he will be in position to compete for the Cowboys' starting job.
``That's a long ways off for me right now,'' Henson said. ``Coach Parcells has been great not trying to give me too much too early, taking things step by step, and the first was to get into the system and understand things.''
Henson is wearing No. 11, the same number worn by past Parcells-coached quarterbacks who played in Super Bowls: Phil Simms with the New York Giants and Drew Bledsoe in New England. Henson picked the jersey, which Parcells insists was just a coincidence.
``I swear I didn't even know that was his number,'' Parcells said. ``The truth of the matter is when we were on the field for a second, I thought, `Oh, they gave him No. 5,' which is the other guy (Mitchell). I didn't know, I swear.''
But both can only hope to have similar results -- one day.