Banged Up Cowboys to Take on ‘Skins

by Dan M | Posted on Friday, September 23rd, 2011

Dallas tries to stay afloat, Washington looks for 3-0

 

Special to

The Sports Page Weekly

 

The Dallas Cowboys have yet to win a home opener in their new stadium, and could be in for a major challenge to try to change that.

 

The banged-up Cowboys expect Tony Romo to be available Monday night when they host the surprising Washington Redskins.

 

Dallas (1-1) has opened the first two seasons at Cowboys Stadium with losses to the Giants two years ago and Chicago last year. Romo has two touchdowns and five interceptions in those games.

 

The much-maligned former Pro Bowler was criticized after two late critical turnovers in a season-opening 27-24 loss to the Jets. He silenced some of those detractors by returning despite a fractured rib and evidence of having a collapsed lung to rally Dallas to a 27-24 overtime win at San Francisco last Sunday.

Romo was hit hard on the game’s opening drive. He left before halftime for treatment and was replaced by Jon Kitna before returning in the final minute of the third quarter, throwing for 201 yards in the fourth quarter and overtime.

 

“I think he’s doing fine,” coach Jason Garrett said. “He got knocked around a little bit on Sunday, but he’s getting his rehab and hopefully he’ll be ready to play for this ballgame. We’ll take it day to day, the next few days.”

 

The Cowboys may be forced to surround Romo with some backups. Miles Austin reaggravated a hamstring injury after three touchdown catches Sunday, running back Felix Jones sustained a shoulder injury and starting center Phil Costa reinjured his right knee.

 

Redskins cornerback DeAngelo Hall is eager for the opportunity to add to the pain and discomfort Romo and Jones already are enduring.

 

“Absolutely. I want to get a chance to put my helmet on whatever’s hurt,” Hall said. “Romo’s ribs — I’m going to be asking for some corner blitzes. If I know Felix Jones’ shoulder’s hurt, I’m not going to cut him. I’m definitely going to try to hit him up high, so that’s just part of it.

 

“If you know something’s wrong with an opponent, you’re going to try to target in on that. We’re going to try to definitely get as many hats on that team as possible.”

 

Dez Bryant was inactive against San Francisco after not practicing last week because of a bruised thigh.

 

Garrett refused to be specific about the extent of the injuries and is giving his team an extra day off this week to get ready for Monday.

 

Washington has opened 2-0 for the first time since 2007. The Redskins rallied from an eight-point deficit in the final 5:17 for a 22-21 win over Arizona last Sunday.

 

“A year or two, we would have taken an ‘L’ because we didn’t know how to finish,” linebacker Brian Orakpo told the Redskins’ official website. “This year, we’re growing as a team, guys are playing together. Guys don’t want to give up on each other, and everybody has each other’s back.”

 

This trip to Dallas will bring back some good memories for Rex Grossman, who replaced Donovan McNabb as Redskins starter last year for a 33-30 loss Dec. 19. Grossman completed 25 of 43 passes for 322 yards — his second-highest career total at the time — and four touchdowns to rally Washington from a 20-point deficit.

 

“It’s going to feel pretty similar to me,” Grossman said. “That was a pretty important game for me, as is this.”

 

The Redskins have lost four of their last five meetings with the Cowboys, and Grossman is excited about his second start in this NFC East rivalry after he went 3-1 against Green Bay as a starter for Chicago.

 

“Any time you are in a rivalry game kind of like the Bears-Packers, Cowboys-Redskins, it’s one of the biggest rivalries in the NFL,” Grossman said. “It’s a very important game for both teams so it adds a little bit more adrenaline, a little bit more excitement, Monday night football, so it’s going to be a fun day.”

 

Grossman will be trying to avoid DeMarcus Ware, who leads the NFL with four sacks after the linebacker led the league with 15 1/2 in 2010. Ware had two of the Cowboys’ five sacks of Grossman in the last meeting.

 

Dallas cornerback Terence Newman has yet to see action this year due to a groin injury.

 

Washington’s last 3-0 start was in 2005, also the last year it won a playoff game.

 

“To be able to get off to a 3-0 start would be huge,” Grossman said.

 

LaRon Landry anticipates playing

LaRon Landry is ready to be a beast again.

 

The Washington Redskins safety said Wednesday he anticipates returning from his hamstring injury for Monday night’s game against the Dallas Cowboys.

 

“Don’t calm me down. Let me go,” Landry said. “Un-tame this beast, man. It’s been a while.”

 

Landry hasn’t played since Nov. 15 when his season ended early because of an Achilles tendon injury. At the time, he was having his best year and appeared on the verge of becoming one of the top safeties in the NFL.

 

The Achilles tendon healed during training camp, but the fifth-year veteran pulled his hamstring warming up before the exhibition game against Indianapolis on Aug. 19.

 

He had another setback the week before the regular-season opener, but he said the leg now feels comfortable and ready to go. He plans to test it fully Friday or Saturday to make sure, then will leave the decision up to coach Mike Shanahan.

 

“The only thing I’m anticipating is me playing on Monday night,” Landry said. “Everything else is out of my control. I can’t speak for him. I can’t rush God. If it ain’t ready, it ain’t ready. … I haven’t had any hiccups or any setbacks, so I’m looking forward to playing this Monday night.”

 

Teammates say Landry was so pumped that he was running full speed during the walkthrough Wednesday morning, to the point they had to tell him to slow down. He was listed as limited for the afternoon practice, and his status remains a cautious “day by day” in Shanahan’s book.

 

“Hopefully he’ll be ready,” Shanahan said. “But I thought that maybe last week, but it didn’t work out that way. You’ve got to find out if somebody’s in football shape. I don’t want to bring him back too quick.”

 

Landry’s return would solidify a defense that’s already off to a good start. The Redskins (2-0) lead the NFC East headed into the showdown against the division rival.

 

“I was talking to (rookie linebacker) Ryan Kerrigan about LaRon the other day and just told him the game’s going to change when LaRon’s out there,” cornerback DeAngelo Hall said. “Just the intensity he brings, the speed he brings, the reckless abandon he brings to the table is just amazing. You sit in awe sometimes watching him while you’re on the field. If he’s out there, we’re going to be that much better, faster, crisper.”

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