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The VRR: Losses Across the Division Helped, but the Cowboys Must Continue to Improve

Even with the Giants, Eagles, and Redskins all losing yesterday, the NFC playoff picture is full of teams with winning records. The Cowboys must continue to improve.

Looking at the division standings, the Giants still hold a comfortable lead, sitting at 5-1 and having already beaten the Redskins and Cowboys. The Eagles and Cowboys are now at 3-2 and still have division games to play. Washington also has five games remaining in the division, but at 2-4, they're three full games behind the Giants, who beat them in Week One.

But more than just the division race, it appears the battle for the final two Wild Card spots will be tight as well. Through six weeks of the regular season, 10 of the 16 NFC teams are 3-2 or better, including a pair of undefeated teams in Minnesota (6-0) and New Orleans (5-0).

Getting key players back to 100% will certainly help. All signs are pointing to Felix Jones and Roy Williams returning to a full-time practice schedule.

Not only will Roy Williams and Felix Jones practice Wednesday but they are on the field today. The players are in jerseys and helmets today as they get an extra day for Atlanta.

[UPDATE: In today's press conference, Coach Phillips said that they will hold Gerald Sensabaugh out of practice for a few more days. They have not ruled out the possibility of him playing against the Falcons. END UPDATE]

More VRR after the jump.

Keith Brooking is really looking forward to playing against his former Atlanta teammates.

For the first time in his 12-year NFL career, Brooking is playing for a team other than the Atlanta Falcons. That makes Sunday's home game against Atlanta a special one for Brooking.

"It will be very exciting. I've had it circled on my calendar since I signed here," Brooking said. "I'd be lying to you if I told you that I didn't."

He likes playing for the Cowboys and that energy has rubbed off on the other players.

"I've really enjoyed my time here. It's been a great experience," Brooking said. "I think I've fit right in with these guys and what we're trying to do." Talk to anyone in the locker room, and they rave about Brooking.

"He's added fire. He's added passion. He's very productive," linebacker Bradie James said. "I'm just happy that we got Atlanta's seconds." Added nose tackle Jay Ratliff: "He came in with the attitude that he wanted to work and just be a great teammate. He plays with a lot of emotion and we just feed off of that. You can't help but follow a guy like that."

Linebacker Anthony Spencer was answering mundane question after mundane question last week before he was asked about Brooking. Instantly, he lit up, flashing an ear-to-ear smile. "I love playing with Keith," Spencer said. "He loves the game so much. I don't see him retiring any time soon. He's an old guy, but you don't see it on the field at all."

Brooking admits that if the team is going to succeed this year, they must eliminate the little things that kill.

"I call it sweeping the corners," Brooking said. "It means don't leave anything behind, get in the corners, and clean them out real good. Do the small things. "If we do that, we are going to be right where we want to be. This is a very talented team. As long as we prepare the way we are supposed to prepare, the way championship teams are supposed to prepare ... it's going to show up on Sunday."

ILB Jason Williams is learning much about the pro game from Bradie James.

Williams has received help in this area from veteran linebacker Bradie James. He has become a mentor to Williams in some instances and it has helped boost his football IQ.

"Me and Bradie James actually talk a lot, and he tells me that he was in this position before, so he knows how it is," Williams said. "He tells me about some mistakes I made on reads or helps me with the little things. He has been helpful."

Tony Romo became the first player from Eastern Illinois to have his jersey retired. He wore the number 17 for the Panthers.

"You don't expect it," the Dallas Cowboys quarterback said. "It's almost embarrassing that everybody wants to look at you and tell you that you did something good."

As Eastern's quarterback from 2000-02, Romo was named Ohio Valley Conference Player of the Year three times. In 2002, he won the Walter Payton Award as the most outstanding offensive player in the FCS.

"The time I had here was an unbelievable time in my life, helped shape me in a lot of ways to become the person that I am today," Romo said.

By the way, the Panthers won the game 23-15.

Dating back to last season, Tashard Choice has, in a way, been the Cowboys' lead back.

Don’t let the depth chart, where Choice is listed behind Marion Barber and Felix Jones, fool you. This is no third-string back. And don’t restrict your sample to the start of this season.

Choice has amassed 402 more yards than Barber since Thanksgiving of last season and has 56 more touches in those 10 games. Jones is so far back, he’s not part of the discussion. Barber is the starter. Jones is the most dangerous offensive weapon the Cowboys possess. But their inability to stay healthy has thrust Choice into the primary role.

Roy Williams will be at Pizza Hut today for a charity event to help end world hunger.

The football player will catch passes thrown by fans at a Dallas-area Pizza Hut, 9550 Dallas Parkway in Frisco, on October 19 from 4 to 6 p.m., in exchange for donations to the World Food Program.

"Too many people in the world go to bed hungry," Williams says. "We can all be team players to help end world hunger, and I'm inviting the great fans of Dallas to join my team to make a difference."

Anthony Spencer returned home to help his mother during the bye week.

[H]e returned to Fort Wayne to appeared at the Fort Wayne Next Level golf fundraiser at River City Links. Spencer's mother, Tonia Creech, is executive director of Fort Wayne Next Level, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping at-risk boys in grades 4-9.

"She told me about it and I said, ‘Golf? It's getting cold out,'" Spencer said, laughing. "I try to help out as much as possible with whatever she needs me to do. I know it's a good cause."

Ray Buck lists his 50 Greatest Dallas Cowboys.

Remember, to go to fanschoice.com to vote Emmitt Smith!

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