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The VRR: Hot Cowboys Prepare to Take on Cold Packers

Because both the Cowboys and the Packers finished third in their respective divisions in '08, they are once again facing off this season. With the weather expected to be in the high 40's at Lambeau Field, there won't be much for a frozen tundra. But judging by Green Bay's 38-28 loss at Tampa Bay last week, the Packers will bring in a cold front of their own.

Hopefully, the red hot Cowboys' defense can continue to freeze another NFC offense. David Carr Aaron Rodgers is getting sacked left and right this season. DeMarcus Ware and Jay Ratliff ought to be licking their chops.

Rodgers has spent a lot of time on his back side — Tampa Bay dumped him six times Sunday. The Packers have given up a league-high 37 sacks, seven more than Kansas City and 20 more than Dallas.

"Well, it has to stop," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said after the demoralizing Tampa loss. "You can’t sit here and keep taking sacks."

Injuries have added to the problem on the offensive line. The movement will likely continue this week with rookie T.J. Lang possibly getting the start at right tackle after Mark Tauscher re-injured his knee in his first start at right tackle at Tampa Bay.

More VRR after the jump.

The Cowboys look to have an advantage over the Pack's special teams, as well.

The Packers are hurting on special teams. They rank dead last in net punting and are one of four teams to give up a blocked punt. While the Cowboys have thrived on field position, the Packers have not. They rank 26th in opponent starting field position, 24th in punt return and 17th in kickoff return.

The Star-T scouts Rodgers.

OLB Aaron Kampman is missing practice and may not play against the 'Boys.

Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy is pessimistic about outside linebacker Aaron Kampman being able to play against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday.

Kampman emerged from Sunday's loss at Tampa Bay with a concussion and will miss his second consecutive practice on Thursday. McCarthy said on a conference call that the Packers will treat Kampman cautiously because of the nature of the injury.

Much of Miles Austin's potential was evident in games against Green Bay.

Miles Austin has had some pretty good games against the Green Bay Packers in his four-year career. In 2007, Austin didn't have a catch but returned six kickoffs for 166 yards.

Then last season, Austin had just two catches -- but they went for 115 yards, including a spectacular 63-yard score that was the first of his career. Austin almost had another touchdown in that game but was caught on his way to the end zone for a 52-yard gain.

"If I look back at that game, I look at the touchdown, rather than the other one," Austin said.

The Cowboys got Kevin Ogletree involved last week via bubble screens. Makes you wonder what they have in store for him this week.

The bubble screen calls for the receiver to take a step forward before darting back toward the quarterback to catch the ball.

"We've been working on it in practice," Ogletree said. "If there's a play the coaches design and call for me, I'm just going to give it my maximum effort."

That the No. 5 receiver made such a big contribution underscores a major reason the Cowboys (6-2) will ride into Green Bay (4-4) this weekend possessing the NFC East lead and a four-game winning streak: Everybody's pitching in offensively.

"We have so many people contributing," coach Wade Phillips said. "You don't have to count on a running back to make 150 yards for you to win, or one receiver having two or three touchdowns."

Tashard Choice is digging his role as a Razorback quarterback.

"Just another way we can get the football, man," Choice said. "It was cool to be in the game. And for the coaches to call it [and be] comfortable with it, that was really important."

The Miami Dolphins are the only NFL team that uses the Wildcat formation on a consistent basis. Choice says he watches film of how the Dolphins use the scheme.

"Ronnie Brown is perfect for it. He's awesome," Choice said of the Dolphins' running back. "One of top three backs in the league, to me, running the football. He's patient and he makes people miss. That's what really makes it."

Does everybody on the team refer to the formation as the "Razorback"?

Most teams have nicknames for their "Wildcat" formations. In the case of the Cowboys, "Wildcat" QB Tashard Choice was asked what the official name of the formation was. Choice's answer was simple.

"It's called TC, that's it."

Ken Hamlin (strained groin) and Andre Gurode (ankle) were held out of practice today.

On Wednesday, Hamlin was suited out but later worked strength and conditioning coaches, who were running with return specialist Allen Rossum, who is expected to miss another game with a hamstring injury.

As for Gurode, he suffered a ankle injury in the Eagles game and missed two snaps, before returning on the next series.

The rest of the Cowboys' injury report.

Steve Wyche begins his "Best free-agent moves" article by talking about three Cowboys: Keith Brooking, Igor Olshansky, and Gerald Sensabaugh.

Safety Gerald Sensabaugh, defensive end Igor Olshansky and linebacker Keith Brooking have been the glue at each level of the defense that is now allowing stars Terence Newman, Jay Ratliff and DeMarcus Ware to hit their strides.

"(With) Igor and myself, Wade (Phillips) knew what he was getting because he coached us in San Diego and Atlanta," said Brooking, the Cowboys' leading tackler who spent his previous 11 seasons with the Falcons. "Sense (Sensabaugh), he's in the same boat, except I don't think they knew he was such a playmaker. It's working because this means something to the guys. Not just us three, but to all 11 guys on the field."

Sensabaugh (Jacksonville), Olshansky (San Diego) and Brooking were deemed expendable by their former teams. But their experience, toughness and desire were inherent qualities that have allowed them to mesh with the guys in place and fill voids that were areas of concern. Adding experienced pieces to prime parts is a long-held formula to success, but some teams, especially those in need of "franchise" talent or marquee appeal, spend for the big dogs that don't always help the overall cause.

The offseason moves the Cowboys made to achieve better team chemistry have worked since the season began.

Linebacker Bradie James said the sense of community began in training camp. He said that was evident in crunch time against the Eagles Sunday.

"This year, so far, has been definitely the best team atmosphere," James said. "With the characters we have on this team, guys are really just playing for one another, understanding the goals we have, sticking by each other's side. You want to know as players what you can count on and who you can rely on when the funk hits the fan and we know that we can definitely rely on each other."

Matt Mosely takes a look back at the Cowboys' first half of 2009, and then looks forward to the rest.

There's no reason the Cowboys can't win at least 11 games. After a trip to Green Bay, they come home to play the Redskins and Raiders. The worst they'll do in that stretch is 2-1, and I think they have a great chance to come out of this stretch 9-2. I think 11 wins will seal the division race -- and the Cowboys are headed in that direction. Will they win a playoff game? Yes, I think they'll finally break through and get a win. I'm very interested in that game in the Meadowlands in early December. I have a sneaking suspicion that the Giants will have turned it around by then.

Jason Witten spent Tuesday going back to school.

Witten picked up the fourth-grader and his family in a limo Tuesday and took them to Akin Elementary School in Wylie ISD. The Cowboys tight end was welcomed by screaming students and teachers chanting "Cowboys! Cowboys!"

Weaving around the fans shaking sparkling blue pompoms, Witten went straight up the middle of the crowd in the school cafeteria to speak about good health as part of the NFL Play 60 campaign. The program encourages youths to exercise at least an hour a day.

Cowboys Stadium could soon host a Manny Pacquiao title fight.

"Keep an eye on this Pacquiao fight Saturday," Jones said. "That's a big one. Keep an eye on that. Some big things might happen if he could win that one."

Last week rumors began of a possible matchup between Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather at the stadium should Pacquiao dethrone Cotto at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.

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