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ONE HAPPY CAMPER; AIKMAN DELIGHTED WITH DALLAS' OUTLOOK.

Byline: Associated Press

Welcome to Camp Aikman.

Troy Aikman is finally getting what he wanted from coach Barry Switzer and owner Jerry Jones: a Dallas Cowboys camp free of distractions, dawn to dusk hard work, and a dedicated attitude.

Aikman first had a camp like that under Jimmy Johnson. After last year's unhappy result in which the Cowboys were bounced out of the playoffs by Carolina a game short of the NFC title game, Aikman hinted retirement if Dallas didn't brush up its image.

``I haven't made a decision yet about my future,'' the former UCLA star said in February. ``Certain things need to be addressed.''

They were.

The Cowboys re-signed close buddy Daryl Johnston, hired Calvin Hill to clean up the team's public image, and promised a no-frills, hard-working camp.

He also wasn't happy with a frantic exhibition season like last year's, when the team played in two different countries, scrimmaged three different teams, and played one more exhibition game than most clubs.

``There's a fine line between being 13-3 and 8-8,'' Aikman said. ``We have to get the edge back.''

It wasn't 8-8 for the Cowboys, but it was 10-6, not a mark to which Dallas is accustomed. Now Aikman is enthusiastic again, buoyed by the appearance of Michael Irvin in camp and the signing of free agent Anthony Miller to complement him at wide receiver.

``We could have the best corps of receivers we've ever had,'' Aikman said. ``In Mike and Anthony we may have the best tandem in the league. Certainly the best group of receivers since I've been here.''

Aikman likes the healthy return of tight end Eric Bjornson and praises rookie first round draft pick David LaFleur, another tight end.

In fact, Aikman all but said Deion Sanders needn't worry about offense when he finally reports from the Cincinnati Reds.

``Deion might be able to help but it would hard because it (being a receiver) takes so much time,'' Aikman said.

Aikman also has been bubbly about his future.

``As long as we are a focused football team I want to be part of it,'' Aikman said. ``I want to play as long as I can. I hope what takes me out of the game is that I can't physically perform any more. I'd like to play another six or seven years but I don't know if I can do it physically.''

Aikman's overall health is excellent except for a calf problem that still dogs him to this day.

``I still have some problems with a pulled calf but it's progressing all right,'' Aikman said.

Then he smiled ``My arm is still good and healthy.''

Aikman has been brilliant in early training camp drills. His sizzling passes have been on target and he seems happy being in charge of the team.

``It's critical we have a good training camp this year,'' Aikman said. ``I still feel we're one of a handful of teams who can win the Super Bowl. You saw what happened last year. We had a disjointed training camp then we got off to a 1-3 start. We can't afford that again.''

At Camp Troy Aikman, No. 8 is finally getting what he wants.

CAPTION(S):

2 Photos

PHOTO (1) After last season's frustrating finish, Troy Aikman said Dallas had to shape up. It did.

(2)Troy Aikman is pleased by the healthy return of tight end Eric Bjornson (86).

Associated Press
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Copyright 1997, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Article Details
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Title Annotation:SPORTS
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jul 27, 1997
Words:570
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