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Cowboys turn quickly to Redskins, RG3's visit


Cowboys turn quickly to Redskins, RG3's visit

IRVING, Texas (AP) Dallas played a long game, and now faces a short week.

And Washington's Robert Griffin III is on his way in for the most appropriate of Thanksgiving games - Cowboys vs. Redskins, the first NFL game in Texas for the Heisman Trophy winner from Baylor.

It's safe to say the sigh of relief was brief for Dallas after Sunday's 23-20 overtime win over last-place Cleveland.

``We are going to enjoy this one for another 10 minutes or so and then get on to the Redskins,'' Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said after the game.

There are several issues for the Cowboys to consider in the roughly 96 hours between Dan Bailey's winning field goal in overtime and the kickoff against the Redskins.

Start with the offensive line, which essentially ended up with three replacements against the Browns after left tackle Tyron Smith injured an ankle early and didn't return. Tony Romo absorbed a career-high seven sacks, and a fumble on one of them triggered a wild ending that the Cowboys were fortunate to file under ``happy.''

Smith said Monday he had a high ankle sprain and would be a game-time decision. He says he played through the injury once in college at USC. If the former first-round pick isn't back, undrafted free agent Jermey Parnell, a third-year player, is likely to fill in again.

With Phil Costa and Ryan Cook out, Mackenzy Bernadeau had to move from guard to center, where he made his first start for Dallas against Cleveland. Derrick Dockery took Bernadeau's spot at right guard.

``It's just the nature of it, and you have to be able to just plug the next guy in and come up with the right combination and move on and find some things that those guys are able to do well enough to execute ball plays,'' Garrett said Monday. ``It was a challenge for us last week going into the game. It was more of a challenge during the game. And it'll be a challenge this week as we get ready for the Redskins.''

Another part of Romo's problem Sunday was he didn't have much help from the running game. The Cowboys had just 17 yards rushing at halftime - all by Felix Jones - and 68 for the game. Jones missed some time after re-injuring his knee and didn't play in overtime. He was a limited participant in practice Monday.

DeMarco Murray didn't practice, but Garrett didn't rule out his return from a five-game absence with a sprained foot. If Jones and Murray can't play, undrafted rookie Lance Dunbar could end up with most of the carries against the Redskins. After Dallas had eight straight pass plays on its first overtime possession, Dunbar did get three carries on the winning drive, including a 7-yard run that put the Cowboys in field goal range.

``He had a few plays I had to get on him a little bit. It was just a couple of small mistakes,'' Romo said of Dunbar. ``I told him afterward, `We will correct these. We'll get them right but we have to lock in.' The kid has some ability and he showed that today.''

The Cowboys are 1-1 against rookie quarterbacks who began the season as starters as they prepare to face Griffin. They lost badly to Seattle and rookie quarterback Russell Wilson in Week 2 and were headed in the same direction against Brandon Weeden and the Browns.

Weeden led three straight scoring drives as Cleveland built a 13-0 halftime lead, and he completed five straight passes late in the fourth quarter, including a 17-yard touchdown to Benjamin Watson that put the Browns ahead 20-17 with 1:07 remaining.

Griffin was 14 of 15 for 200 yards with four touchdowns in a 31-6 victory over the Eagles.

``You can see that as the season progresses that they grow,'' Cowboys cornerback Brandon Carr said. ``They're still learning the game as rookies, but at the same time they have a lot of upside. They have a lot of ability to go out there and lead their teams.''


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Initial Trent Williams injury news is 'good,' per CSN source

Initial Trent Williams injury news is 'good,' per CSN source

The Redskins didn't just lose to the Lions 20-17 on Sunday.

The team also lost Trent Williams — arguably the best offensive lineman in the NFL — to an injury on the team's final drive of the game. 

The four-time Pro Bowler appeared to injury his knee as the Redskins scored a go-ahead touchdown with just over a minute remaining. Following the gut-wrenching loss, Williams was in a significant amount of pain in the locker room, and the Redskins' biggest fear was starting to materialize.

But it looks like the Redskins — and Williams — have just narrowly avoided their nightmare situation. Williams had an MRI on Monday and a source close to CSN Mid-Atlantic's Chick Hernandez says the initial news on Williams' injury is good, which is a relief to Redskins players, coaches and fans.

Additionally, Mike Jones of the Washington Post reports that the MRI revealed no structural damage.

The thought is that Williams may even be able to go in Week 8 when the Redskins travel to London to take on the Bengals.

With a bye week coming after the trip to London, there is time for Williams' knee to heal, whether he sits out in London or not. 


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What should the Redskins do at running back?

What should the Redskins do at running back?

A week ago the Redskins rushed for 230 yards against a strong Eagles defense. Matt Jones led the way, gaining 135 yards including 57 on a game-clinching long run in the last minutes of the game.

Now fast forward to today and there is widespread clamoring for Jones to be benched, perhaps permanently. Having a hand in three fumbles, two of which were lost, will do that.

The first one, for some reason, was charged to Kirk Cousins, although it appeared to be a clean handoff. Jones lost the handle but he recovered it. No harm in that play but it foreshadowed problems to come.

Later on in the first quarter the damage started. On a first and goal play from the seven Jones was fighting for extra yardage inside the five when the ball popped out and rolled into the end zone. The Lions recovered, costing the Redskins at least three and possibly seven points.

Protecting the ball when fighting for yardage is running back 101. Jones needs to retake that course.

The other fumble, in the third quarter with the Redskins driving in Lions territory, was rightfully charged to Cousins. He tripped on the foot of center Spencer Long and tried to get the handoff to Jones anyway. But the missed connections and the Lions recovered the loose ball.

You can’t can put too much of the blame on Jones, but there are plenty of running backs out there who would have reacted to the situation better and would have made an adjustment.

Jones also lost a fumble against the Ravens two weeks ago. After doing a good job of holding onto the ball all during training camp, the preseason, and the start of the regular season, an old problem (Jones lost four fumbles last year) is rearing its ugly head.

So there’s the problem. What’s the solution?

After the second fumble, Jones had just one carry. That may have been at least in part because by the time they got the ball back they were down 13-3 I the fourth quarter. But you have to think that the ball security problems had a lot to do with it.

The rest of the game was mostly the Chris Thompson show with a little bit of Robert Kelley mixed in. For the game Thompson led the team in rushing with 12 carries for 73 yards and threw in seven receptions for 40 yards. Kelley ran four times for 15 yards and he got his first career touchdown on his first career reception.

It worked, in that the Redskins had a four-point lead with 1:05 to go. It’s wasn’t enough but they put up 417 yards and got 26 first downs.

The problem is, having Thompson as your leading rusher is not sustainable. At 5-8, 195 he is not likely to be able to take the pounding if the team needs someone to carry the ball 20 times or so in consecutive games.

Maybe Kelley is the way to go. He’s 6-0, 228, better built to take the punishment. I don’t think the coaches are at the point yet where they fully trust him to handle all aspects of the job for 40+ snaps. But it’s hard to trust Jones at any point of the game right now.

It could unfold something like this: Jones sees very limited action against the Bengals and Thompson and Kelly share the load with about 10-12 carries each. Jones gets back to basics on ball handling (I haven’t seen the ball that beeps when it’s not gripped properly out a practice for a while) and eventually he gets another shot at being the prime running back.

Let’s remember that Jones has a 4.6-yard average per carry this year. That’s not great but it’s pretty good. He has some talent and he’s a worthwhile reclamation project. But I do think he needs a while to ponder the work he has to do.