10-Day Layoff will Help Dallas

For the past three weeks, Cowboys coach Bill Parcells has lamented his team's plight of having to play three games in 11 days.

He talked about the toll it would take on the team and its need to survive it to stay in the playoff race.

Despite a disappointing 24-21 loss to the Broncos last Thursday, the Cowboys finished the stretch with a 2-1 record, thanks to victories over the Eagles and the Lions.

The Cowboys will now have 10 days off between Thanksgiving Day and their Dec. 4 matchup against the Giants.

Not only will they be able regroup from the devastating loss to the Broncos, but they also will have a chance to get healthy for the final, five-game push.

"I think it should help us for sure," quarterback Drew Bledsoe said. "It's a good time for the guys that are bruised up and nicked up to get closer to being healthy. It allows us to get a head start on the game we have a week from Sunday. It helps us now that we have gotten through this tough stretch with three games so quick to have a little extra rest."

Parcells said the added rest will only prove beneficial if the Cowboys bounce back with a victory against the Giants.

But what is certain is that the Cowboys are trying to make the most of the layoff.

Center Al Johnson had the 10-day layoff in mind when he underwent arthroscopic surgery to repair some torn cartilage in his knee shortly after the Broncos game. There is a chance he could be ready to play against the Giants. The Cowboys also hope cornerback Anthony Henry is also back in the lineup. He missed the Broncos game after aggravating a torn groin injury last week in practice. And third receiver Patrick Crayton, who has been out since hurting his ankle in the first meeting against the Giants, could be ready to go.

Of course the Cowboys will need to be at full strength for the final push because they are facing a difficult schedule.

After the Giants game, they face the Chiefs at home before back-to-back road games against the Redskins and the Panthers. They finish the season at home against the Rams.

"We've got a chance to come back and play to be at the top of the division against the Giants," linebacker Bradie James said. "That's where our focus is.

"Bill's message was, 'Keep your head up and get ready to come back to work.' We still have things to play for. Our season is nowhere near over."

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