* CB Terence Newman just missed becoming the first Cowboys player to win NFL defensive rookie of the year honors, finishing second behind Baltimore defensive end Terrell Suggs. Newman recorded 80 tackles and a team-high four interceptions.
Five Cowboys have been named offensive rookie of the year, including
Calvin Hill, Duane Thomas, Tony Dorsett and Emmitt Smith.
* FB Richie Anderson was supposedly, brought in to provide leadership
in the locker room. Nobody talked much about Anderson's on-field impact,
kind of like the player to be named later in a baseball trade. Make
that an all-star to be thrown in later. Anderson, who should have made
the Pro Bowl, led the team in receptions with 69 for 493 yards, recorded
a career-high 306 rushing yards, tied for team lead with five
touchdowns, while also playing option quarterback.
* MLB Dat Nguyen is the key to the league's top-ranked defense
heading into the playoffs.
There is no question that safety Roy Williams has emerged as the team's
best player on defense. Or that defensive tackle La'Roi Glover anchored
as strong effort up front. But they wouldn't have finished No. 1 in the
league without Dat Nguyen's outstanding play. He should also be in the
Pro Bowl as the Cowboys tackle leader with 140 stops, including 93 solos.
His season compares favorably to any middle linebacker in the league
not named Ray Lewis.
* CB Andrew Davison (knee) was placed on injured reserve Wednesday
and WR Cedric James was signed from the practice squad. James will
likely not be active for Sunday's game but if he is, it would be as a
special teams player.
GAME PLAN: Four consecutive victories against Carolina, including a
24-20 triumph last month, has bolstered any confidence lost against the
Saints. "It gives our team a lot of confidence knowing we beat these guys,"
Cowboys quarterback Quincy Carter said.
Parcells said he didn't care who they played. And while he expects a challenge from the Panthers, Parcells, too,
said familiarity is a bonus in the rematch.
"We had a hard time with this team," Parcells said. "I'm expecting a
tough game from them. Certainly the way they attempted to approach us is
visible, and us to them as well. I don't think teams this time of year
change appreciably. The one thing is we know that we can beat them,
because we've done it. That's always positive."
The Cowboys' history with the Panthers won't mean a thing, however,
if they play as they did against the Saints, a game that included three
interceptions, a horde of penalties and mental miscues.
It was a continuation of woes that plagued the Cowboys late in the
season. After starting 3-0 on the road, the Cowboys lost four of the
past five games away from Texas Stadium. And of Carter's 21
interceptions this season, 12 have come on the road, including 10 in the
past four road losses.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH: Cowboys defense vs. Panthers running back Stephen Davis. The key to Dallas' victory against the Panthers earlier this year
was being able to stop Davis, who rushed for 59 yards on 26 attempts.
They will have to repeat that performance if they hope to win in the
playoffs. Davis set three club rushing records this season: Attempts (318),
yards (1,444) and touchdowns (8). He sets the tone for anything the
Panthers hope to do on offense.
INJURY UPDATE: CB Andrew Davison (sprained knee) will not play
against the Panthers. Davison damaged his medial collateral ligament in
the second quarter against the Saints while covering a kick. Jemeel Powell likely will replace Davison as the fourth cornerback.
Cowboys - Panthers News & Notes
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