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Cowboys release former All-Pro lineman Allen

IRVING, Texas (March 21, 2006) -- The Dallas Cowboys released left guard Larry Allen, likely cutting ties to one of the most dominant offensive linemen in NFL history.

Allen, the final player left from Dallas' most recent Super Bowl team, is going into his 13th season. No longer the steamrolling blocker he once was, Allen was due a roster bonus April 1.

"This decision is a tough one for me personally," Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said in a statement. "Larry has been the best in pro football for a long time. His ability and performance set a standard for excellence at his position in the NFL for many years, and we are grateful for his contributions to the Dallas Cowboys."

Dallas could still re-sign the 34-year-old Allen, with Jones even saying the club has "made it clear that the door is open for ... a return to the Cowboys."

But as a free agent, he can go anywhere he chooses.

Allen's agent, Marvin Demoff, did not immediately return a call to The Associated Press seeking comment.

Offensive line was among Dallas' weaknesses last season, from not providing enough time for quarterback Drew Bledsoe to not opening enough holes for running backs. The arrival of Terrell Owens likely makes it even more important for the line to keep defenders away from Bledsoe.

While Allen wasn't among the biggest offenders, his salary made him expendable. The Cowboys probably already have his replacement in Kyle Kosier, a versatile lineman they signed from Detroit at the start of free agency. Kosier played more guard than tackle in his career, mostly left guard.

Kosier, however, is no Larry Allen.

Praised by Jones as "a sure-fire Pro Football Hall of Famer," Allen matched his size (6-foot-3, 325 pounds) with unbelievable strength. He bench-pressed more than 700 pounds, making his annual strength test a must-see event for all his teammates. Plus, he was agile enough to be a terrific pulling blocker, a nightmare for the smaller players he often encountered.

Perhaps the best indication of his ability: Emmitt Smith gained a huge chunk of his NFL rushing record while following ground plowed by No. 73.

Allen was named All-Pro eight times, including his first seven as a full-time starter, 1995-2001. After being injured in '02, he was honored again in '03.

He also was a member of the NFL's all-decade team for the 1990s as a guard.

Allen made the Pro Bowl in 10 of his 12 seasons in Dallas, the most by any offensive player in team history and second only to defensive tackle Bob Lilly's 11 trips. He was chosen at both guard and tackle, joining guard-tackle Chris Hinton and center-guard Bruce Matthews as the only offensive linemen ever picked at multiple spots.

A second-round pick from Sonoma State in 1994, Allen moved into the starting lineup at right tackle as a rookie. He was the right guard from 1995-97, then played left tackle in '97 and '98. He was a stalwart at left guard from '99 through 2005, except for time at right tackle in '02.

Despite his size and success, two things coach Bill Parcells usually likes, their relationship was often strained.

They squabbled over where Allen worked out in the offseason -- on his own, instead of at the team's training facility -- and last summer Allen failed Parcells' conditioning test at the start of training camp, causing him to miss about a week of practice.

AP NEWS
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