Dallas Cowboys News & Notes: Austin Fired Up, Carter Motivated, Murray Prepared

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Latest Cowboys headlines: Players are looking forward to Sunday's game; "empty looks" may be the way forward for the Cowboys; contrary to public opinion, Tony Romo may be one of the most clutch quarterbacks in the league.

Look for more 'empty' looks from Dallas Cowboys - Todd Archer, ESPN Dallas
The Cowboys had great success against the Broncos with their empty package, featuring either three or four wide receivers and/or one or two tight ends with no running backs on the field. But as successful as the package was, because there's no running back to pick up blitzers, it's also a bigger challenge for the offensive line.

"The challenges are figuring out who the blitzers are," right tackle Doug Free said. "You know they always bring an extra one, so you’ve got to be able to ID who the other guy is because you don’t have a back to pick them up. So you slide the line that way and sometimes you’re right and sometimes you’re wrong. It’s tricky at times."

Key to Cowboys' running game? Rolling with three receivers - Tim MacMahon, ESPN Dallas
MacMahon observes that the Cowboys averaged only 3.63 yards on 52 carries out of "12 Personnel", but 5.33 yards on 51 carries out of a three wide receiver set. He concludes with rapier wit that the Cowboys are better with three receivers on the field.

The Truth Is Tony Romo Isn't a Choker - Advanced NFL Stats
I'll let you read the first two paragraphs of this article below. For the rest of this well-researched piece on the nature of clutchness, follow the link above.

Last week, a premier quarterback threw a devastating fourth-quarter interception that effectively sealed his team's fate in a back-and-forth game. This critical gaffe perpetuated what has become an increasingly disturbing trend of failures to "come through in the clutch," as critics like to deride. Despite gaudy statistics, he has a recent track record of playing his worst in big games, raising questions as to whether or not his team's so-called championship window remains open.

Clearly, Tom Brady is the NFL's biggest choke artist.

Cowboys Corner: Miles Austin said he's "fired up" and "excited" to be back - Charean Williams, Star-Telegram
Austin is widely expected to be back on the field on Sunday after sitting out the last two games with a hamstring strain. Austin says he's "fired up" and "excited" after not playing since getting hurt against the Rams three weeks ago.

Bruce Carter back in starting lineup after benching; lesson learned and motivated to prove himself - Clarence Hill, Star-Telegram
Hill takes a close look at what led to Carter's benching and how Carter reacted subsequently. Carter has now regained his starting job in the regular defense and the nickel for Sunday and is ready to go "balls to the wall."

"I don't know what they were trying to do but they definitely motivated me," Carter said. "It definitely puts a chip on your shoulder. You got to go out there and prove to everybody you can play at a high level. You can't [take] anything for granted. You have to go balls to the wall."

Cowboys Add Practice Squad LB To Roster; Will Be Active Sunday - David Helman, DallasCowboys.com
Cameron Lawrence (dubbed "Fabio" by Rafael Vela in training camp for his long, flowing hair - a name quickly adopted by fans at camp) was signed off the practice squad on Friday.

Sources: Cowboys skeptical that DT Jay Ratliff will be able to return to practice next week - David Moore, DMN
The Cowboys can activate Ratliff from the reserve/PUP list after Sunday's game against Washington, but Moore writes that sources are skeptical that Ratliff will be able to return in the next few days amid concerns about his conditioning level. Moore concludes that the clock is ticking for Ratliff:

If Ratliff is unable to return to the active roster by the team’s Thanksgiving Day game against Oakland, he’s ineligible to return for the remainder of the season.

RGIII 'not the same' QB, Cowboys' Brandon Carr says - NFL.com
Brandon Carr recognizes that Robert Griffin still is not the same player he was last season.

"He doesn't look the same," Carr said Thursday on NFL Network's "Around The League Live." "That's not saying we're going to fall asleep on him. He still has the same arm strength. He still has some type of elusive ability once he gets outside the pocket. ... But we know he's not the same."

Murray Not Taking 'Skins Defense Lightly - NBC DFW
The Redskins currently rank 31st in the NFL in rushing defense, but DeMarco Murray isn't putting too much stock in the numbers.

"You can never go on stats when you play a team like this, and a game like this where it’s a division game," Murray said, per the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "They're a great defense. [London] Fletcher is still there. [Ryan] Kerrigan and [Brian] Orakpo both on the edges still. We respect those guys, and we know it’s going to be a hard-fought game, and we’re excited for the challenge."

Broncos briefs: Jack Del Rio looking past Dallas debacle - The Denver Post
Just like his counterpart in Dallas, Broncos DC Jack Del Rio is facing some tough questions about how his defense could allow 48 points. But unlike Kiffin, Del Rio doesn't want to look back at the Dallas game. Also unlike Kiffin, his team ultimately won the game, so there's that.

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