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Cowboys News: Cowboys @ Redskins essentially “playoff game for both teams.”

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Latest Cowboys headlines: Dez Bryant “still as good as anybody in the redzone”; Kicking game gets special attention; Redskins running out of medical supplies.

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Washington Redskins Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Michael Irvin: Why Cowboys versus Redskins is essentially a playoff game - SportsDay
Michael Irvin joined ESPN Radio San Antonio and talked about the importance of today's game in Washington.

Michael Irvin: It's a playoff game for both of these teams. This is a playoff game, and they have to see it this way. Both teams already have three losses. Here's the kicker though: Philadelphia lost their best tackle. Now whoever comes out of this is saying, "Woah." Without [Eagles offensive lineman Jason] Peters, who knows? They might hit a 1- or 2-game stumble, and the Cowboys have got them twice. If you hit a 1-game stumble, and the Cowboys beat them twice, they're the NFC East champs. So you've got to look at this thing right here and say, "Boy, that's a great opportunity." This is a playoff game. That's what I'm going to talk about on Sunday. My story line: 'Playoff game in Washington between the Dallas Cowboys and the Washington Redskins.' That's how big this game is.


The days of the NFL one-dimensional pocket passer are over - Thomas George, SBNation.com
This article looks at the importance of mobile quarterbacks in today's NFL and features a quote by Scott Linehan, who explains how the Cowboys are utilizing Dak Precott's mobility.

"I think there is a little bit of a misnomer to say this is something new," Dallas Cowboys offensive coordinator Scott Linehan said. "Even before Fran Tarkenton and after John Elway, there have been guys in this league who can play off schedule. There has always been sort of a sneaky commitment to it. But the colleges now are emphasizing it. And so are we. It has become more a part of the evaluation of what makes an NFL quarterback. I know our guy (Prescott) is very good at it. Across the league, there are more creative ways and functions of it."

Prescott, Linehan said, has particularly glowed and displayed a sparkling knack on play-action bootleg rolls and throws.

"It’s gotten to the point now in our league where you can have a run called and the quarterback has a built in movement pass he can go to based on what he sees," Linehan said. "Especially when he’s in the shotgun, he can see it all, make the change without audibling and that is really key. These defenses now make strong checks on every audible you do. They react to your reactions really fast. But when you can go to a movement pass like that without even audibling, you really put the pressure back on them."

That is the type of ruse that will be a prominent part of both highly mobile quarterbacks, Prescott and Kirk Cousins, when Dallas plays at Washington on Sunday.

In player survey, Dak Prescott voted second most likely of NFC QBs to win most Super Bowls over next decade - SportsDay Staff
NFL Players seem to have a high opinion of Dak Prescott.

In a player survey conducted by ESPN's NFL Nation, 155 players were polled on quarterback topics such as most overrated (hello, Eli Manning), who talks the most trash and more. One of the topics was who is most likely to win the most Super Bowls over the next 10 years.

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, despite being 40 years-old, topped the list with 21 percent of the votes. Another AFC quarterback came in second in Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr with 20 percent of the votes and Green Bay Packers signal caller Aaron Rodgers came in third with 18 percent of the votes.

After Rodgers, it was Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott, receiving 10 percent of the votes.


Jay Gruden: Fantasy football has critics fooled about Dez Bryant; 'He's still as good as anybody in the redzone' - Jon Machota, SportsDay
More and more football fans increasingly confuse fantasy points with real football stats. Redskins coach Jay Gruden says even the critics are falling into the fantasy points trap.

"What people are mistaking nowadays in pro football, I think, fantasy football numbers and stats," Gruden said this week during a conference call with reporters at The Star. "I think they put a cloud over these players because those don't really matter. What matters is getting the ball in the endzone. That's what Dez's forte is. He's still as good and maybe one of the top redzone targets in the league. Scoring in the redzone is the most important part of pro football, third downs and scoring in the redzone.

"He is definitely a threat. How they get to the redzone doesn't matter. ... But once you get in the redzone you got to have the ability to score. Nobody better the last five or six years than Dez at making those plays, the back shoulder plays, the fades, the slants, whatever it is. He's still as good as anybody in the redzone and I still think that's a trait that is really important in this day and age in pro football."

With another TD catch, Dez Bryant will break Bob Hayes' Cowboys mark - Todd Archer, ESPN
Dez Bryant and Bob Hayes each have a franchise-high 71 TD receptions for the Cowboys, but Bryant's weekend focus will be on beating the Redskins.

"You don't want to be thinking about that. That will take away from everything you've been trying to do or working on," Bryant said. "You've got to let that stuff come to you. That's what I'm going to do. If it comes, it comes. If it don't, it don't. It eventually will come."

"I'm just being honest, it'll be cool but try to put a bigger stamp on it if that makes sense," Bryant said. "I'm not thinking about it. I'm just trying to go. I want to score as many touchdowns as I possibly can, and that's just my attitude. I don't have anything to do with the record. I think I'm a scoring machine. I always felt that way since high school. That's how I roll."


Cowboys lineman Cooper parlays health into starting job - Shuyler Dixon, AP
Finally back to full health, Cooper became a starter in Dallas four games into the season.

"That's played a major role in kind of how my career has gone," Cooper said of a series of injuries, starting with his rookie year getting wiped out by a broken leg in a preseason game after Arizona drafted the former North Carolina standout seventh overall in 2013.

"To make it through camp, it's like, 'Well, you aren't the starter.' I thank God I'm healthy. Guys getting banged up. And I made it out completely healthy. To me, that was a great step in the right direction for this season."

Chaz Green was the left guard for the Cowboys the first three games, while Cooper was inactive. Twice in those three games, the NFL's No. 2 rushing offense from last season was held under 100 yards. In the three games since, Dallas hasn't had fewer than 163 yards rushing.

The secret behind Cowboys DE DeMarcus Lawrence's health, production - Brandon George, SportsDay
Lawrence and Tyrone Crawford have been riding their bicycle to work.

Lawrence and fellow defensive lineman Tyrone Crawford decided in May they wanted to do everything possible to be in the best shape for the season. So they sometimes ride their bicycles to the team headquarters, following a hilly path along Lebanon Road. Door to door is about 35 minutes.

Crawford is a more experienced cyclist than Lawrence.

"He's been teaching me some moves," Lawrence said. "I still can't jump the curbs yet. It really helps flush the legs and get the bad toxins out of your legs and also makes you stronger and helps you lose weight. We've been doing it, and no need to stop now, right?"

Dallas Cowboys' run defense is about control, not size - Todd Archer, ESPN
Many fans are clamoring for that monster run-stuffing 1-technique, but the Cowboys are comfortable with their defensive line rotation, Archer explains.

The Cowboys are going with Maliek Collins as the nose tackle. He is more of an under-tackle with an ability to get to the passer, but he is sturdy enough to handle the run. The Cowboys liked what Collins did last week. They also have Brian Price as a big body in reserve.

But their scheme is based on gap control, technique and speed. They have had issues in three games this season in which they did not have any of those: Denver, Los Angeles Rams and Green Bay, and all three had a back go for more than 100 yards.

In two of those games, the Cowboys didn't have Sean Lee. Now he is back and feeling more comfortable from that hamstring strain.

I don't see the Cowboys making a play for a big nose tackle before the upcoming trade deadline. I don't see them spending a high-round pick on a big nose tackle in the draft either, unless they just completely change their philosophy. They believe they can get by with solid if unspectacular one techniques.

Kicking game gets special attention against Washington - Drew Davison, Fort Worth Star-Telegram
With a forecast calling for rain, and a new kicker in Mike Nugent, the Cowboys are facing a lot of uncertainty in the kicking game.

The Cowboys swept the season series against the Redskins a year ago, but each game was decided by one possession. That puts an added emphasis on special teams and new kicker Mike Nugent. Nugent has plenty of NFL experience, but lost a battle for the New York Giants’ job in training camp.

It’s worth noting that safety Jeff Heath is the emergency kicker. The safety was forced into action last week against San Francisco and made two of three extra point attempts.


The Redskins aren’t hurting themselves. This time, they’re just hurting - Jerry Brewer, Washington Post
Brewer writes that while the Cowboys are brimming with confidence, Washington is running out of medical supplies.

It seems the Washington Redskins, once again, are close to falling apart. It’s a seasonal predicament, really.

Leaves change colors for autumn; Washington withers into crisis. Snow falls in winter; Washington feels the chill of crisis. Flowers bloom in spring; Washington watches crisis blossom. The sun rises early in the summer; Washington awakes to crisis.

The latest problem is just hard luck. There is no controversial general manager firing, no quarterback contract impasse, no infighting, not even a really bad team wearing out its welcome. This time, a promising season threatens to lose steam prematurely because of injuries.

And it’s not the normal, every-football-team-gets-hurt variety. The rash is so bad that only one starting offensive lineman is certain to play Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys. It’s so bad that an improved defense is hemorrhaging personnel. It’s so bad that, despite cornerback Josh Norman’s fast recovery from a fractured rib, it’s hard to imagine Washington being effective against their rival without a lot of help from the weather (rain, rain, don’t go away) and without the Cowboys showing their wacky, inconsistent side.