'Boys - Rams Preview & Prediction

Will he play? Injuried quarterback Tony Romo will no doubt be a key to what the Cowboys are able to do Sunday afternoon in St. Louis.

KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 ET

GAMEDATE: 10/19/08

SURFACE: FieldTurf

TV: FOX (Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston, Tony Siragusa)

SERIES: 21st regular-season meeting. The series is tied 10-10. Dallas won last season in Dallas 35-7. Dallas won the last meeting in St. Louis in 2002, 13-10.

KEYS TO THE GAME: Cowboys QB Brad Johnson lacks the arm strength of injured Tony Romo, but he has more than enough experience to exploit the Rams' soft secondary with WR Terrell Owens and newly-acquired Roy Williams, who said he expects to play. St. Louis can't double cover both receivers, and Dallas will attempt to further set up its downfield shots by establishing RB Marion Barber early on. ... The Rams want run the ball well enough to keep the Cowboys' pass rush at bay, but St. Louis has to attack Dallas' depleted secondary to pull the upset. The Cowboys are minus injured CB Terence Newman and suspended CB Adam Jones, leaving rookie Mike Jenkins starting opposite former starter Anthony Henry. The question is whether the offensive line can protect QB Marc Bulger long enough for receivers to get open.

KEY INJURIES: Cowboys: RB Felix Jones (hamstring) is out; OG Kyle Kosier (foot) remains out; Newman (sports hernia) is out; Romo (fractured pinky) has participated in some light practice and hasn't been ruled out; SS Roy Williams (forearm) is expected to play. Rams: WR Kennan Burton (knee) should return after missing three games; LT Orlando Pace (thigh/quad) is uncertain.

FAST FACTS: Johnson is 4-0 in his career as a starter against St. Louis. ... The Rams have been outscored in the first half this season by a combined score of 74-36.

COWBOYS PERSONNEL NEWS CB Adam "Pacman" Jones has checked into alcohol rehab at an undisclosed facility in Dallas.

--LB Carlos Polk was signed to the roster and will play Sunday. The Cowboys need help on special teams because of an injury to Kevin Burnett, who is questionable for the game with a calf injury.

--WR Sam Hurd was placed on injured reserve after having surgery to repair torn ligaments in his ankle.

--CB Mike Jenkins said he is more than ready to fill in for the suspended Pacman Jones at left cornerback. Jenkins, a first-round pick, said it's his time. He didn't expect to sit on the bench this long anyway.

RAMS PERSONNEL NEWS: LT Orlando Pace did not practice Thursday, but there's still a possibility he could play Sunday against Dallas. Pace said he plans to practice Friday and see how his injured quad/thigh feels. Coach Jim Haslett said it would still be a game-day decision, and that Pace could play if he hasn't practiced this week.

--QB Marc Bulger (jammed finger) threw without problems Thursday and took all the snaps with the first unit in practice.

--RB Antonio Pittman (leg), who did some limited work in practice Wednesday, did not participate Thursday with the team in full pads. Pittman is expected to be able to play Oct. 26 against New England.

--CB Ron Bartell appeared on the injury report Thursday with a shoulder issue, but he participated fully in practice and is expected to play Sunday against the Cowboys.

--CB Ricky Manning underwent surgery Tuesday to repair a broken fibula, an injury suffered this past Sunday against Washington. Manning is out for the season after being placed on injured reserve.

INSIDE THE DALLAS CAMP: Quarterback Tony Romo was supposed to be out four weeks with a broken right pinky.

But Romo threw with some success in practice on Wednesday and is now pushing to play Sunday against the Rams.

The doctors will make the final determination and it's still most likely that Brad Johnson will play.

But Romo is pushing and negotiating hard to get on the field.

"He wants to play," guard Leonard Davis said. "If it's something too serious, they are not going to let him, but Tony is Tony. He wants to be out there and do what he can do."

Said tight end Jason Witten: "I don't think you can worry about that. He has to make that decision. Obviously, he is professional and he knows his body. He's a competitor. He wants to play. I don't know if he will be back this week or not. But it's encouraging to all of us that he will be back sooner (rather) than later.

"Tony is smart; he is going to make the right decision. He is going to do what is best for him. At some point in time, he's going to have to get some timing and throws out there to do it. But I think for all of us, we have to go and prepare with Brad being the guy right now. If Tony is able to do it, then obviously that is encouraging.

INSIDE THE ST. LOUIS RAMS: He has never been one of the team's more vocal players, but when quarterback Marc Bulger talks, teammates listen.

He has certainly struggled going back to last season, and then this year was benched by then-coach Scott Linehan before the team's Week 4 game against Buffalo. Running back Steven Jackson spoke out, saying Linehan had made a bad decision, and said other players felt the way he did.

When Linehan was fired following that loss, the first thing new coach Jim Haslett did was reinstall Bulger as the starter. Bulger didn't have a great game against the Redskins, but the team won, and his 43-yard pass to rookie wide receiver Donnie Avery got the Rams in position for the game-winning field goal.

Bulger talked to the team the day before the game in Washington saying it was one they could win. When they did, in the locker room after the game, Bulger stood up and reminded the team of what he had said.

Coach Jim Haslett said he likes what he sees from Bulger, especially off the field. Noting that Bulger also "worked the sideline" well during the game against the Redskins, Haslett said, "He's throwing the ball well. It (injured finger) is black and blue and puffed up, but he's a tough guy and he's doing a nice job of running this team. He's the leader of this team and he's stepped up the last couple weeks and he's kind of taking over. I'm proud of him, I'm glad the way he's doing things."

Said Jackson, talking about Bulger's effort to exert a leadership role and talking to the team, "He gave a few words of encouragement; telling guys what he expected out of us. It was good to see him do that."

PREDICTION: Cowboys 27-21

CowboysHQ Top Stories