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Cowboys /Chargers Crumbs

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  • The San Diego Union Tribune reports that TE Antonio Gates will be on the sidelines but will not play Sunday. LB Shawne Merriman is begging to play, hoping to show up the Cowboys for "slapping him in the face" and selecting Demarcus Ware in the April draft. Merriman is wearing a brace on his left knee, but practiced yesterday. His status is listed as questionable.
  • Back to Protect His House: The Cowboys resigned OLB/DE Eric Ogbogu to shore up the depth at outside linebacker. Rookie Kevin Burnett injured knee cartilage and may miss one to three weeks, according to the team's website. CB Bruce Thornton was released to accomodate Ogbogu.
  • Payton on the Hotseat: The team announced that OC Sean Payton will call the offensive plays. Payton has had play calling duties in all the preseason games. This represents a change in the chain of command -- HC Bill Parcells has called all offensive plays the past two seasons.
  • The job will not be new to Payton. He gained his reputation as an up-and-coming assistant while the OC for Jim Fassell at the Giants. In late 1999, Fassell, a longtime OC himself, turned over control of his sluggish offense to Payton. The Giants responsed with a season high 41 points to beat the Jets. Payton got the job full time and orchestrated the 2000 Giants offense that won the NFC.

    Payton's star dimmed somewhat in 2002, when his offense sputtered. By the end of October, New York was next to last in points scored. Fassell took back the play calling duties and jump started the offense, leading New York back to the playoffs. Payton has head coaching aspirations, having interviewed for the Oakland job that went to Norv Turner. Igniting the Dallas offense would also embellish his reputation.

  • The wiseguys have yet to be impressed: Dallas is a 4.5 point underdog to the Chargers.