Cowboys News & Notes

The Cowboys need to establish a running game Sunday afternoon, which we found out against the Buccaneers is vital to what they do on offense. Being able to run takes pressure off of quarterback Quincy Carter, sets up play action passing and allows for deep strikes to their trio of big play receivers.

--RB Adrian Murrell was signed to a one-year prorated deal for $750,000 to bolster the Cowboys inefficient running attack by offering a shifty alternative to bruising tailback Troy Hambrick.

Murrell, who has been out of the league for two years, was signed by the Cowboys in training camp but was cut in August. He may play Sunday against the Washington Redskins.

Murrell, 33, has 5,092 career yards on 1,347 carries with 23 touchdowns in 119 career games with Arizona and the New York Jets. He had three 1,000-yard seasons.

--C Matt Lehr will go fulltime at center with Gennaro DiNapoli being put on injured reserve with a sprained ankle. Lehr had been alternative time with DiNapoli by quarter with Lehr going the first and third and DiNapoli going the second and fourth. Tyson Walter will be the primary backup at center.

--T Javiar Collins and T Kurt Vollers are getting time backing at the guard spots. The flexibility is needed by the two backup tackles because the primary backup Tyson Walter is now the primary backup at center.

--DT Leo Carson, who was signed two weeks ago and saw his first action against the Buccaneers, is one of two recent Cowboys signees with pending legal and criminal issues. Carson was charged with kidnapping and burglary Aug. 21 in Mobile, Ala. The case is still pending.

On Monday, the Cowboys signed rookie defensive tackle Jermaine Brooks to the practice squad, a year after his arrest on drug and weapons charges and dismissal from the Arkansas football team.

In March, Brooks was sentenced to 20 years in prison with 10 years suspended. But, a plea bargain with prosecutors allowed Brooks to enter a boot camp program and he was released in late August. Brooks remains on probation for 10 years.

Cowboys defensive tackles coach Kacy Rogers was Brooks' defensive line coach at Arkansas.

"I don't know what Leo's situation is exactly or how it's going to turn out," Parcells said. "I couldn't comment on any authority on that. But just because some things are pending that doesn't mean that a certain result is going to come. In Jermaine's case, I have a good understanding of it."

GAME PLAN
The Cowboys need to establish a running game, which we found out against the Buccaneers is vital to what they do on offense. Being able to run takes pressure off of quarterback Quincy Carter, sets up their play action passing game and allowing for deep strikes to their trio of big play receivers. Defensively, putting pressure on the quarterback is key, especially with Redskins coach Steve Spurrier vowing to return to his air it out ways. The Cowboys believe they can cover anyone but getting a consistent pass rush remains a concern with the front four.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH
Redskins QB Patrick Ramsey vs. Cowboys defense -- Ramsey looked great early in the season but has not been as effective lately because of protection problems. He has been sacked 22 times in the first seven games, has fumbled seven times and has been intercepted six times. With Spurrier vowing to throw even more, Ramsey will either trigger some huge offensive numbers or continue to in the line of fire. What he does Sunday will be dependent on a Cowboys defense that has trouble getting to the quarterback with its front four alone. The Cowboys will go after Ramsey with the blitz, thus leaving themselves susceptible to the big play. And receiver Laveranues Coles is capable of being a game breaker. Rookie cornerback Terence Newman has been solid but clearly the blitz must get to Ramsey before he gets to Coles.

INJURY IMPACT
TE James Whalen (leg) is questionable for the Redskins game. He missed the Tampa Bay game with a hamstring strain. His presence is vital because of his status as the team's best special teams player and the possibility that the Cowboys might need to use more two-tight end sets to offset the possible loss of fullback Richie Anderson. Parcells said the Cowboys won't be able to rely on a bevy of two tight sets of Whalen can't go.

--FB Richie Anderson (back, neck) is questionable for the Redskins game. If he can't go, Jamar Martin will start at fullback and newly signed Adrian Murrell will pick up his carries. Because Martin's limitations as a receiver, the Cowboys might rely on more two tight end sets. How much will be determined on the health of third tight end James Whalen, who is questionable with a hamstring strain.

CowboysHQ Top Stories