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Cowboys News: Big day expected for surging Cowboys D-line vs Redskins

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Latest Cowboys headlines: Redskins struggling with banged up O-line; Jaylon The Blitzer; Josh Norman likely playing.

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Washington Redskins Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Surging Defensive Line Poised To Take On Banged Up Washington Front - Jonathan Auping, Dallas Cowboys
The offensive line is going to be an issue for the Redskins, but can the Cowboys take advantage of it?

When asked in his conference call what the status of his offensive line was Wednesday morning, Redskins coach Jay Gruden’s response sounded half joking, half exasperated.

“That’s a great question,” Gruden replied.

Gruden turned Wednesday into an off day for the Redskins. Washington normally practices on Wednesday, even on short weeks, but Gruden needed to try to buy some rest for his ailing players.

“When backups are in you try to take advantage of it,” Crawford admitted. “We’re going to go in there and try to take advantage of what the situation is.”

If last Sunday is any indication, they seemed poised to take advantage of that situation. Against San Francisco, the Cowboys sacked quarterback C.J. Beathard five times for a loss of 48 yards. Crawford, DeMarcus Lawrence, Jaylon Smith, David Irving, and Damien Wilson all recorded sacks.

Sturm's Mailbag: 'Cowboys cover band' Redskins won't last - Bob Sturm, SportsDay
Sturm shares his thoughts on the keys to a Cowboys win on Sunday.

The fun thing about the Cowboys is that their game plan shouldn't change too much week to week. Remain physical and committed on offense to the plan of ground and pound and play-action over the top to stay ahead of the chains and building long drives. Defensively, they are in a spot to plug the run and force some frustrated receivers to try to break out against them. Cousins will sling it, but they run the ball so much on first down. They are like a Cowboys cover-band with Bill Callahan over there, but after a short week and all the injuries, it might be easier to chase them out of running the ball. It is important you don't give them daylight early on the ground.

Defensively, the job gets much easier if you can match last week's two takeaways. Let's make that the weekly standard.

Final Thoughts: Blitzing Jaylon; Helping La'el - Bryan Broaddus, Dallas Cowboys
Broaddus offers up eight pre-game thoughts. Here are two of them:

I liked what I saw from Jaylon Smith as a blitzer last week. Going forward, he appears to have no problem doing it, and the power he shows might lead to setting him up as that extra rusher in certain packages. It's the old saying that coaches put their players in situations where they have the best chance to succeed. Maybe they can find a niche for Smith this way?

As well as La'el Collins has played this season, we need to still keep an eye on him if he's going to require any help against Ryan Kerrigan. With the way the Cowboys like to occasionally get in "12" and "13" personnel groups, keeping Jason Witten or James Hanna in to block would make perfect sense. If Collins appears to be holding up well, then we will likely not see that adjustment and continue to allow him to handle him one-on-one. But all this will be decision by the staff as the game progresses.

Week 8 NFL predictions: Scores for every game - ESPN
Todd Archer predicts a 27-23 victory, and Redskins beat writer John Keim also sees 24-21 Cowboys win. Here's Keim's rationale:

The Redskins are banged up along the offensive line, with four of the five starters dealing with injuries -- and there's a chance at least two will sit out Sunday. That's problematic facing a team that records a sack on 9.5 percent of dropbacks, seventh best in the NFL. The Redskins will have to use a lot of bootlegs and rollouts to compensate, or stay in manageable third downs against a defense that ranks 26th in this area. Quarterback Dak Prescott can burn them with his poise and off-schedule plays. The Redskins have been hurt by mobile quarterbacks Alex Smith and Carson Wentz this season. In the second meeting vs. Washington last season, Prescott averaged 3.05 seconds before each throw (his third highest of the season). That resulted in key third-down conversions and big plays downfield. Indeed, in three combined games vs. Wentz and Smith, the Redskins allowed 22 of 38 third downs to be converted compared with 11 of 40 vs. other teams. It's not a coincidence. Third-down defense and injuries are too much this week.

Only the Bears and Bills are using wide receivers less than the Redskins - Neil Greenberg, Washington Post
The Redskins trust their wide receivers less than ever before.

Cousins has targeted a wide receiver 101 times in 2017, the third lowest total after the Chicago Bears (80) and Buffalo Bills (73), and a significant departure from other seasons during Gruden’s tenure, when his wideouts received an average share of passes during the season, relative to the rest of the league.

Thankfully for Washington, the team is having success passing to tight ends Jordan Reed and Vernon Davis plus running back Chris Thompson.


Injuries: Josh Norman (rib) expected to play Sunday - NFL.com
The best Redskins defensive back appears set to return.

Josh Norman should be good to go for Washington's game against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday, NFL Network's Jane Slater reported Friday. Norman missed Washington's Monday Night Football loss to the Eagles with a rib injury.

One of the league's top cornerbacks, Norman offers an immediate boost or perhaps more accurately, a return to expectation for Washington's secondary, which definitely missed him in Week 7. Wentz threw for 268 yards and four touchdowns in the win over the Redskins.

'Frenemies' Dez Bryant, Josh Norman expected to meet Sunday, so will kind words continue to flow? - Jon Machota, SportsDay
The commercials Dez Bryant and Josh Norman filmed during the offseason have not gone unnoticed by the coaching staff.

The Redskins head coach said he thought they were well done.

"I might start arguing with Jason Garrett," Gruden said during a conference call with reporters at The Star this week. "Maybe we can get a commercial deal."

Garrett laughed when told of Gruden's comments. "Jay's a funny guy," he added.


The 'baby steps' Cowboys' Rod Marinelli is seeing from rookie Taco Charlton - David Moore, SportsDay
Jason Garrett would call it a "process", Rod Marinelli calls is "baby steps" as Taco Charlton works towards his first NFL sack.

"There are some small things coming every time,'' defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli said. "It's not giant steps, it's baby steps right now. I'm seeing some baby steps.''

What are those steps?

"Get off [the snap] and the forward-body lean,'' Marinelli said. "I saw a little bit better last week. Now we get to the move area, he's got to be a little bit more decisive right now in his movement.''

"I want to get him going, got to get him going,'' Marinelli said. "The only way he's going to get better is he's got to keep playing ball.''

Taco Charlton tired of waiting for first sack – Charean Williams, ProFootballTalk
The Cowboys have had Hall of Famer Charles Haley working with Charlton this week in the hope of speeding up Charlton's development.

“I’m not used to waiting this long to get a sack, especially last year when I had 10 sacks in [11] games,” Charlton said, via Drew Davison of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “But I’ve been working hard these last couple of weeks. Last week, I got close. I’ve been working hard, trying to refine my technique. I’m getting there. Hopefully, it comes. Once I get one, hopefully they start coming in bunches.”


6 Days to Sunday: Bailey Likely To Miss “Four More” Games - Dallas Cowboys Staff
Looks like it's going to be a while before Bailey is back.

Life without Dan Bailey seems like it’ll be more than a game or two. In fact, Cowboys VP Stephen Jones said on Friday that it’s likely the team will be without their kicker for a month, if not longer. “Four or more,” Jones said, when asked how many games Bailey could conceivably miss because of a groin strain he suffered last week in San Francisco. The Cowboys got through the game with safety Jeff Heath handling extra points (2-of-3) and kickoff duties. But the team worked out three kickers this week before signing veteran Mike Nugent.

Dallas @ Washington final injury report: Dan Bailey could miss “four or more” games - Blogging The Boys
As expected, Dan Bailey has been ruled out of the game, as has Chidobe Awuzie, but there's also news about the Redskins O-line.

The Washington injury report is long, but it does look like corner Josh Norman should be able to go. One player that has been ruled is center Spencer Long. The rest of the linemen should be game-time decisions, although Brandon Scherff and Trent Williams haven’t practiced all week.


2017 NFL trade deadline: Grading 1 move every team could make - Jeanna Thomas & Sarah Hardy, SBNation.com
Earlier this week, SB Nation’s NFL sites identified some trades they would most like to see their favorite teams make. For BTB, the popular choice was Colts DB Vontae Davis, which earned us a "B" from SB Nation.

If not for the Cowboys’ banged up secondary, they’re probably 5-1, not 3-3. Not a bad deal for either side.

NFL trade deadline: Would safety T.J. Ward be upgrade for Dallas? - NFL.com Staff
NFL.com writers take a look at one potential trade-deadline move for each NFC team and suggest that safety T.J. Ward can be had for a seventh-round pick.

The Cowboys seem to be satisfied with Jeff Heath's play at safety so far this season, and they like the potential shown by rookie Xavier Woods. But a veteran like Ward, who's disgruntled with his playing time down in Tampa Bay, would no doubt be an upgrade over both of those DBs. Ward might not be the best cover guy, but he isn't afraid to play in the box, which would help the Cowboys' weak run defense immensely.

Potential cost: 2018 seventh-round pick.