News & Notes

News and notes out of Valley Ranch for Tuesday. <BR>

* Coach Bill Parcells will announce on Wednesday his quarterback decision for the Redskins game. It will be Vinny Testaverde, Drew Henson or Tony Romo. That it is even a decision is a huge step for Parcells, who has not considered starting anyone other than Testaverde, when healthy, all season.

Parcells doesn't want to concede the final two games but said he would like to see the young players in action. He will decide if it's in the best interest of the players and the team to do so. He said he doesn't want to put them in a negative situation and potentially damage them mentally.

What's certain is that Testaverde hasn't played winning football of late. He leads the NFL in interceptions with 19, 15 of which have come in the last eight games.

* Apparently crucial in coach Bill Parcells' decision at quarterback this week is the up-and-down play of right guard Andre Gurode.

Defensive tackle Cornelius Griffin is the Redskins' best defensive lineman, and he lines up over right guard. Parcells admits having concerns about putting either Tony Romo or Drew Henson on the field in place of Vinny Testaverde if the Cowboys can't handle Griffin up front.

And that is in doubt because of Gurode's frustratingly inconsistent play. Gurode was put on notice by Parcells last week before being benched briefly against the Eagles after a couple of bad plays.

"I don't think it's the effort," Parcells said. "I think the player wants to do well. I wouldn't be this patient over a two-year period if I didn't think so. Right now it's not working too well."

What did work well against the Eagles was the Cowboys' decision to start Kurt Vollers at right tackle over Torrin Tucker. Parcells said Vollers was an improvement at the position and will start again against the Redskins.

* After an emotional pregame speech to his teammates urging maximum effort Sunday, Greg Ellis went out and lived up to his words. Ellis' second-quarter sack of Donovan McNabb gave him a career-high nine for the season. Ellis had eight in 2003.

He also blocked David Akers' extra-point attempt with 10:07 left in the second quarter, the first for the Cowboys since Flozell Adams did it Nov. 27, 2003 against Miami.

Ellis finished with four tackles, a sack and a forced fumble.

"He stepped up today and became a team leader," running back Richie Anderson said. "That's something we've all been looking for. I've never seen that before, but I like it."

* A poor snap might have caused Billy Cundiff to miss a critical 46-yard field-goal attempt with 6:09 left in the game that would have given the Cowboys a 10-6 lead.

After holder Mat McBriar adjusted to the wide snap and placed the ball, Cundiff got the kick away, but it sailed wide left, and the Eagles took over on their own 36. The Eagles launched their game-winning drive after the miss.

"My job is to be perfect, and that wasn't at all," said long snapper Jeff Robinson.

After the game, Cowboys coach Bill Parcells blamed Cundiff for the miss.

"He hit the ball solid," Parcells said. "I put it on the kicker."

* At 5-9, the Cowboys aren't officially out of postseason contention -- yet.

But when receiver Keyshawn Johnson was asked about the team's hopes, he launched into a pitch-perfect imitation of Jim Mora's famous diatribe about a struggling franchise in Indianapolis.

"Playoffs? Playoffs?" repeated Johnson, who had five catches for 61 yards and a touchdown, to general laughter. "Seriously, I don't know, but stranger things have happened. I think we just have to worry about Washington. We shouldn't be thinking about the playoffs at this point."

* RB Julius Jones rushed for 80 yards on 25 carries and had two catches for 21 yards.

Jones has rushed for 80 or more yards in five consecutive games. In two of the team's three previous games, Jones rushed for more than 150 yards for a three-game total of 436 yards, the third-best three-game performance in Cowboys history. Jones gained 150 yards against Chicago, 198 at Seattle and 88 against New Orleans.

"I still feel really good out there," Jones said. "I wish the team had some wins under our belt."

* LB Scott Shanle will get a second straight start in place of Al Singleton at strong-side linebacker. Coach Bill Parcells said Singleton, who missed the Eagles game with an ab strain and might be facing surgery, already has been ruled out of the Redskins game.

Two other players Parcells would like to get on the field the final two weeks are linebacker Ryan Fowler and receiver Patrick Crayton.

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