Previewing Redskins-Cowboys

Cowboys receiver Terrell Owens is feeling good these days. It's so good that Owens can joke about the Cowboys quarterback controversy and his criticism of Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb last year.

KICKOFF: Sunday, 8:15 ET

SURFACE: Sportfield Realgrass

TV: NBC, Al Michaels, John Madden, Andrea Kremer

SERIES: 93rd meeting. Cowboys lead series, 54-38 (Redskins won both playoff games). Redskins swept series last year after losing 14 of 16 matchups from 1997-2004.

2006 RANKINGS: Redskins: offense 22nd (14th rush, 22nd pass); defense 18th (22nd rush, 21st pass). Cowboys: offense 12th (20th rush, 10th pass); defense 17th (7th rush, 22nd pass)

KEYS TO THE GAME: RB Clinton Portis received mounds of praise for battling back from a shoulder injury to play Monday. Now the Redskins need him healthy enough to handle more than 10 carries and help provide more manageable third-down situations. Washington was just 4-for-13 on third down against Minnesota, and must control the clock better on the road. Dallas is also seeking more from its ground game after calling just 22 running plays in Jacksonville. The Cowboys' celebrated playmakers are at receiver, but QB Drew Bledsoe has proven time and again he will make back-breaking mistakes under pressure, and Redskins defensive coordinator Gregg Williams is among the best at devising packages to get after the passer.

FAST FACTS: Redskins: Coach Joe Gibbs is 8-13 against Dallas coach Bill Parcells. ... Seek consecutive wins in Dallas for the first time since a three-game streak from 1987-89. Cowboys: Are 24-10 in home openers at Texas Stadium. ... Have won 14 of the past 17 meetings.

Redskins: --RB Clinton Portis rested again on Thursday and is officially questionable for Dallas with the partially dislocated left shoulder he suffered on Aug. 13 at Cincinnati.

--CB Shawn Springs didn't practice yet again on Thursday and remains officially doubtful for Minnesota in the wake of abdominal surgery on Aug.

15. Kenny Wright will start in place of Springs. --TE Christian Fauria, who turned an ankle on Wednesday, was held out on Thursday but is probable for the Cowboys.

--DE Renaldo Wynn had a second straight strong practice on the sprained right ankle he suffered on Aug. 26 at New England and that kept him out of the opener. Wynn is probable for the Cowboys.

--TE Chris Cooley had three of his 13 career touchdown catches the last time the Redskins faced the Cowboys, a 35-7 victory last Dec. 18.

Cowboys: --K Mike Vanderjagt has kicked with the first team all week and should make his Cowboys debut against the Redskins on Sunday.

--K Shaun Suisham will probably dress against the Redskins, as the Cowboys carry two kickers into the game. Mike Vanderjagt will likely handle field goals with Suisham handling kickoffs. Coach Bill Parcells is concerned about giving up too much yardage on kickoff returns with Vanderjagt's poor kickoffs.

--RB Tyson Thompson might not suit up for the Redskins game if the Cowboys carry two kickers. Coach Bill Parcells said the domino effect of carrying two kickers means the team might go short at either running back or linebacker. If it's running back, it would mean Thompson sits, forcing cornerback Aaron Glenn to handle kickoff returns. If it's a linebacker, it could be Oliver Hoyte or it could be Ryan Fowler, impacting the special teams coverage and maybe goal-line defense.

--WR Jamaica Rector is healthy and ready to go after suffering a sprained ankle against the Jaguars. But he might not suit up for the Redskins game because the Cowboys might have to carry a more versatile special teams player if they carry two kickers to the game. That would also mean that Patrick Crayton would serve as the primary punt returner.

--OT Flozell Adams is not in coach Bill Parcells' doghouse despite giving up a sack and being called for holding in the season opener. Adams missed last season with a knee injury. He was hobbled in the preseason with a calf strain. Parcells said Adams just needs more time to round into shape. He said Adams has proven to be a hard worker in the past and the Cowboys remain supportive.

Redskins: The Clinton Portis "will he or won't he?" circus, which dominated the conversations before Monday's season-opener against Minnesota, continued on Thursday.

Portis, who just about ruled himself out of the opener last Friday before being ruled in as a backup by coach Joe Gibbs on Saturday, took limited work on the first practice day this week and spent Thursday's session in the weight room.

"I'm trying to get it as strong as we can without doing much," Portis said. "We did the small things yesterday. Today was strength and conditioning. I'm trying to stay on top of things and build the strength up to where it will stay the same and I won't have any setbacks. We're trying to get that out of the way now, taking it easy so we don't have to deal with it all season."

Although the Redskins won't say for sure that Portis will play in Dallas, he's positive about that prospect.

"As far as I know, I'm playing," Portis said. "I felt like I could be myself (against Minnesota). Coach stressed that. That was his main concern.

If I'm not going to play the way I play, don't go on the field. I told him, 'If I suit up, that's the only way I know how to play.' I don't know how to play protection football. If I'm on the field, I'm going to play. I can't tell somebody, 'Hey, bro. Take it easy. Don't run into me.'"

Portis ran for 39 yards on 10 carries against the Vikings compared to the 22 yards on eight carries by fill-in starter Ladell Betts.

"If you call my number, I'm not going to shy away from nothing," Portis said. "If I'm on the field, then I feel I can handle whatever they give me.

I feel good about (the shoulder), but last week I wasn't sore. There weren't any bumps and bruises because I hadn't been hit. Going through the game, getting hit, having physical contact, it's just really sore. I am glad I came back. I think it was a spark for the team. It was exciting for the fans."

Portis wants to start on Sunday, but he's trying not to be selfish despite the obvious edge in talent shown by his franchise record 1,516 yards last season.

"I'd love to start," Portis said. "I'd love to do everything, but at the same time, we have a deep roster. We have Ladell, Rock (Cartwright) and T.J. (Duckett) working hard week-in, week-out, day-in and day-out. I can't just overshadow them. They put the work in. It's only fair that they get their opportunities."

Cowboys: Cowboys receiver Terrell Owens is feeling good these days.

It's so good that Owens can joke about the Cowboys quarterback controversy and his criticism of Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb last year. He said then that the Eagles would be better off with Brett Favre than Donovan McNabb.

"Any quarterback questions, I am staying away from," Owens said jokingly. "You are really punching me with those. I am not going there. If I change to defensive end then we can talk quarterbacks. Other than that, quarterback questions are off limits."

Yes, Owens has learned his lesson. He probably has seen Favre's poor play with the Packers too.

Owens had a strong game in the season opener with six catches for 80 yards and a touchdown. He believes he can get better, considering he's still feeling the effects of 21 missed practices in the preseason with a hamstring injury.

"My legs aren't where they need to be now," Owens said. "Not being out there on the field, I just felt a little sluggish. I felt a little heavy. Once my legs get up under me I will play better."

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