People in the Super Bowl champion Dallas Cowboys' training camp are starting to think they might be without two-time rushing champion Emmitt Smith when the regular season opens on Sept. 6.
Smith, a holdout, hasn't budged from his demand for about $4 million a season. The Cowboys have offered $2 million. Smith's agent, Richard Howell, said there is nothing new in the stalled negotiations.
Buffalo's Thurman Thomas, who last season became the first player to lead the league in combined rushing and receiving yards for four consecutive seasons, became the NFL's highest-paid running back last week, signing a four-year, $13.5-million deal.
Cowboy owner Jerry Jones said Smith is asking for too much money.
"We have to look down the road long term for when the salary cap kicks in next year," Jones said. He tried, however, to remain optimistic. "Emmitt will be a Cowboy. We'll get this deal done. It's just a big business decision."
Smith earned $750,000 last season.
Since camp started, Coach Jimmy Johnson has had the team working on contingency plans for a season without Smith. Michael Beasley, Derrick Lassic and Derrick Gainer are competing for the starting job.
Redskin Coach Richie Petitbon went with youngsters and Washington absorbed a 34-14 pounding by the veteran-laden Pittsburgh Steelers in a scrimmage at Carlisle, Pa. Coach Bill Cowher of Pittsburgh used his veterans for two of the first four 10-play series and dominated the Redskins.
Said Petitbon: "As a team, we stunk."