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Cowboys dump DB Westbrook

IRVING, Texas, Sept. 13 (UPI) -- The Dallas Cowboys Friday gave up on veteran defensive back Bryant Westbrook, releasing him after he struggled in the team's regular season opener last Sunday.

Westbrook committed two costly penalties in the 19-10 loss to the expansion Houston Texans and had yet to display the ability that allowed him to be a dominant player earlier in his pro career.

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The Cowboys, gambling that Westbrook could return to his pre-injury form, signed him to a one-year contract worth nearly $1 million.

Westbrook played five seasons with the Detroit Lions and suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon during the 2000 season. He admittedly returned too soon from the injury last season, but played nine games for the Lions, who released him at the end of the season.

"We've been hanging in there with him," said Cowboys Vice-President Stephen Jones. "It's not like we didn't have a lot of patience. And then he had a tough week of practice, too."

Duane Hawthorne, who was supposed to rotate in at left cornerback with Westbrook, will start Sunday's game against Tennessee.

The Cowboys had signed Westbrook to a one-year contract with a $750,000 base salary and $125,000 signing bonus. Because of his six years' experience, Westbrook is considered a "vested" veteran, meaning his entire salary is now guaranteed because he was on the roster in the first week of the season.

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