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The VRR: Cowboys @ Broncos Edition

The big news - all signs point to Marion Barber returning to the lineup against Denver. First Jerry said so, now Wade says so.

Dallas Cowboys running back Marion Barber participated fully in practice Thursday and coach Wade Phillips said Barber will play against Denver on Sunday after missing last week’s game with a quadriceps strain.

Nice timing, with Felix Jones down, MB3 returns and the Cowboys still have a rotation of backs for the best rushing attack in the league. Of course, the always dependable Tashard Choice will be there ready to take his turn. The Cowboys will probably call up Chauncey Washington from the practice squad for insurance, and possibly special teams.

And just why is Dallas having so much success with the ground game?

More below...

The big uglies up front are getting it done again. Against the Broncos, they'll have a definite size advantage.

Realizing the average Dallas Cowboys offensive lineman outweighs him by 79 pounds, Denver Broncos outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil hatched a plan for himself and his fellow defensive teammates this week. "Steak and potatoes," Dumervil joked. 

Josh McDaniels pays the Cowboys line a heavy compliment.

"Some of the holes that are open, I’m not sure I’ll see the rest of the year," Broncos coach Josh McDaniels said. "There’s plays where the back doesn’t get touched and he’s 25 yards into the secondary."

But before we get too giddy about our offense, the Broncos have gone 3-0 basically on the strength of their defense.

The Denver Broncos have allowed a league-low 16 points in their first three games. The combined 3-6 record of those three opponents - Cleveland, Oakland and Cincinnati - suggests their defensive success could be misleading.

Cowboys head coach Wade Phillips believes the Broncos' top defensive ranking (214.7 yards per game) is no fluke, and for good reason: He and Broncos first-year defensive coordinator Mike Nolan coached together in Denver from 1989-92. Phillips was the defensive coordinator then, Nolan the linebackers coach. Nolan has re-installed a 3-4 front in Denver, and the results have been impressive. The Broncos have 10 sacks and a plus-6 turnover ratio. They've only allowed 408 total passing yards, an average of 136.3.

Those are some outstanding numbers. But everyone wants to see the Broncos beat someone besides the three teams they've played so far, who are considered weak teams. I'll give you Cleveland and Oakland as two of the worst teams in the league, but Cincinnati has proven they are capable. Still, the Broncos won that game on a fluke. They want legitimacy by beating the Cowboys. The Cowboys haven't exactly beaten stellar teams either, the Bucs and Panthers are a combined 0-6.

While Denver has shined on defense, they've had some problems on the offensive side of the ball. One issue of concern is their short-yardage running game, especially in the redzone. But they're not changing anything just yet.

"We're going to run the same stuff down there," [McDaniels] said. "We've just got to do a better job of getting it in, that's really what it comes down to. Once you're down there inside the 5-yard line, it's not a whole lot about scheme. It's about executing."

The Broncos, who host Dallas (2-1) on Sunday, had a first-and-goal at the 1-yard line in the first quarter against Oakland and failed to score. On two other occasions, the Broncos settled for field goals after getting inside the 5-yard line.

We'll see if the Cowboys defense can have two good games in a row and shut down the Broncos offense. They're getting a little help this week, the return of an injured rookie.

Rookie inside linebacker Jason Williams has returned more quickly from his high ankle sprain than the Cowboys expected. He will likely be activated this week and play on special teams because outside linebacker Curtis Johnson re-injured his hamstring Monday.

In other rookie defensive news, Victor Butler had a great game Monday, but not such a great morning before a midweek practice.

Three days [after the game], he oversleeps, is late to a team meeting and gets an earful from the head coach.

"That’s the worst feeling in the world," Butler said Thursday, shaking his head. "You get up; you think you’re all right; you think it’s like six-fifty-ish; you go into the bathroom; you put the lights on, and the lights won’t come on. 'All right, that’s not normal.’ "

Oops, power’s out.

"I turn my phone on and it’s 8:28. Jesus!" Check-in time at Valley Ranch: 8 a.m., sharp. "I got there at 8:34," he continued. "Oh yeah, I probably would have gotten a ticket. I saw the time; I put on whatever I had. My pants were on backwards, my shirt was on backwards, two different shoes, and I just ran out of the house.

"You hate that. Your heart sinks down to your feet and you think, 'God, why? Why?’ I totally messed up. When you’re trying to prove to your coach that you can step up, you need everything you can get, and stuff like that doesn’t help. "Other than that, I feel like I’m taking strides."

It's okay kid, things like that will happen. Just get a couple of more sacks like last week, and all's forgiven.

For a close, I give you Mike Wilbon, Cowboys hater.

Cowboys at Broncos: Denver hasn't beaten anybody, right? The Broncos will have by Sunday night when they beat the Cowboys