DALLAS -- The Dallas Cowboys, desperate for running help and unable to sign first-round draft choice Emmitt Smith, traded two undisclosed draft picks to the Houston Oilers Monday for fullback Alonzo Highsmith.
Dallas also sent a draft pick to the Los Angeles Raiders for offensive guard John Gesek.
Highsmith was held out of action last Saturday in the Houston- Dallas exhibition game, fueling speculation a trade was likely. In addition, Dallas cut three running backs from its roster Sunday, including former San Francisco first-round choice Terrence Flagler.
'Alonzo Highsmith is one of the outstanding talents in the NFL,' said Cowboys Coach Jimmy Johnson, who coached Highsmith at the University of Miami. 'He is a big, strong fullback with outstanding talents. He fits in with what we want to do and he has outstanding character and work attitudes.'
In three years with the Oilers, Highsmith had 251 carries for 1,103 yards and seven touchdowns. His longest run was 42 yards. Highsmith, however, has twice undergone arthroscopic knee surgery.
Highsmith became expendable because of the Oilers' use of the run- and-shoot offense, which employs only one running back. Houston still has running backs Mike Rozier, Allen Pinkett and Lorenzo White on its roster.
'Alonzo will be able to practice Wednesday,' Johnson said. 'We will be talking to him about the changes in our system (since Highsmith was with Johnson in Miami). We feel he will get some playing time against San Diego (in Sunday's opener).
To make room for Highsmith and Gesek, the Cowboys placed kicker Ken Willis and running back Timmy Smith on procedural recall waivers. If both players clear waivers, they will be reclaimed and other roster moves will be made to make room for them.
One of those moves is expected to be the placement of wide receiver Michael Irvin on injured reserve for four weeks because of complications involving a surgically repaired knee. Irvin played in the Cowboys' third exhibition game, but swelling developed in the knee.