KICKOFF: Sunday, 4:15 ET
TV: FOX (Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Pam Oliver)
SERIES: 92nd regular-season meeting. The Cowboys lead the series 54-35-2. The Cowboys won the two regular-season games last year, but the Giants beat the Cowboys in the playoffs en route to winning the Super Bowl title. A Cowboys win would be their fourth straight regular-season win against the Giants.
KEYS TO THE GAME: QB Brad Johnson will start, but if he struggles early the Cowboys won't hesitate to turn to Brooks Bollinger, who took practice snaps with the first team this week. The 40-year-old Johnson lacks arm strength and mobility, making it difficult for him to get out of the way of the Giants' ferocious pass rush or hurt New York vertically. Either quarterback will need a massive game from RB Marion Barber to alleviate the pressure. ... If CB Anthony Henry isn't ready to play, the Cowboys will start a pair of rookies in Mike Jenkins and Orlando Scandrick. Even when healthy, Dallas would have a difficult time matching up with all of the Giants' options downfield, so the Cowboys desperately need an effective pass rush. Giants QB Eli Manning is still prone to critical errors when forced to unload the ball before he wants to.
KEY INJURIES: Cowboys: OG Kyle Kosier (foot sprain), RB Felix Jones (hamstring), CB Terence Newman (sports hernia) and QB Tony Romo (broken right pinkie) are out; TE Jason Witten (broken rib) said he wants to find a way to play if possible. Giants: OLB Gerris Wilkinson (knee) is out.
NEED TO KNOW: Brad Johnson has moved into 51st place on the NFL's all-time list with 166 career touchdown passes, passing former Cowboy Troy Aikman. ... Manning has thrown 32 touchdowns to WR Plaxico Burress since 2005, the most in the NFL during that time for one tandem.
DALLAS PERSONNEL NEWS: TE Jason Witten will be a game-time decision with a broken rib. He will wear extra padding. He just says it's a matter of him being able to manage the pain.
"I'm hoping," Witten said. "I hope it feels better by the end of the week and see how it goes. Those other guys have to prepare. Right now, it is what it is -- it's a broken bone there. I hope I can get out there and help. It's a big game obviously and do my part."
--TE Martellus Bennett will start if Jason Witten can't go. The rookie Bennett will need to improve his work ethic, according to Witten.
"If you have a veteran guy ahead of you, sometimes you don't prepare as well as you should," Witten said. "It showed a little bit in last week's game."
--LS L.P. Ladouceur has been a reliable deep snapper. But in light of recent injuries to the deep snapper, the Cowboys have prepared in case he goes down. Tony Curtis, Cory Procter and Joe Berger have all gotten work as long snappers this week.
--WR Roy Williams has two catches for 10 yards and one touchdown in two games with Dallas. Williams has gotten more involved in offense the past two games and expects his role to increase.
"I was the No. 4 receiver (two weeks ago), and then I was the No. 3 receiver last week," Williams said. "So in the nickel situations, I got to play a little more. I'm slowly climbing up the ladder."
--QB Brooks Bollinger is getting snaps with the first team in practice. But he has not been told he will replace Brad Johnson if he struggles. Bollinger said he is just going to do his best to be as prepared as possible.
GIANTS PERSONNEL NEWS: RB Danny Ware, who hasn't been activated for a game since leading the team in preseason game rushing, was cleared of two alcohol-related charges that took place the Saturday night during the team's bye weekend in Atlanta. A University of Georgia product, he went home to attend the Georgia-Alabama game and did admit to some drinking. He was ticketed for public intoxication and intoxication in a public thoroughfare.
--All-Pro DE Osi Umenyiora, who is out for the season following knee surgery after an exhibition game, said his healing process "is about a month ahead of time" and that he thinks he might have been able to help the Giants during the latter part of the schedule and into the playoffs. But that, of course, is not allowed by the rules, which say that a player put on injured reserve prior to the opening of the season must wait until the start of the next one (2009) to play again.
--It is unlikely that CB Kevin Dockery (fractured transverse process) or WLB Gerris Wilkinson (knee) will play Sunday vs. Dallas. Dockery is the nickel back most of the time, and would be replaced by rookie Terrell Thomas or veterans Sam Madison/R.W. McQuarters. Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo has also used rookie Kenny Phillips in adjusted nickel packages.
--Two others who missed recent practices, rookie WLB Bryan Kehl (toe) and veteran DT Fred Robbins (hand), are expected to play.
--K John Carney will almost certainly continue to handle that function for the team despite the presence on the active list of incumbent Lawrence Tynes. Carney has missed only one field goal in 19 tries and has made all 19 PATs. "I have continued to talk with Tynes and he understands the situation," says head coach Tom Coughlin.
INSIDE THE DALLAS CAMP: The Cowboys are being given no chance of winning Sunday against the Giants.
With a team looking more like a MASH unit and their struggles of late, it's understandable.
Still, the Cowboys are relishing the underdog role.
"I mean, if they're 6-1 and we're 4-3 and we've been having an up-and-down season, no one's going to give you a chance," linebacker DeMarcus Ware said. "But the thing is, I feel like we're back in action. I feel like we're stronger than we were at the beginning of the season, even though we have a lot of injuries and everything. No one's going to give you a chance, but the guys here have to be motivated and ready to play."
Said tight end Jason Witten: "We've done it before. We've done it before. We've done it before. This team is playing good. I give them a lot of credit. They have a lot of swagger. ... You're almost hurting yourself by looking at last year's film. It's a different group. To see them just fill in - (Mathias) Kiwanuka plays linebacker and now he goes to end and gets three sacks. They are playing great. We have a system; we have a lot of players and we feel confident in what we're doing; we're going to have to play well."
INSIDE THE NEW YORK CAMP:
Wide receiver Plaxico Burress, who caught the Giants' Super Bowl-winning touchdown pass in February, is also constantly in the team's news but not for his exploits on the field.
He is the original anti-establishment personality and cannot seem to stop himself from flaunting another rule whenever it applies to him. He has been suspended this season for two weeks and one game (it occurred when the team's bye-break was beginning). He has been fined by the NFL for arguing with officials on the field. He was seen cursing at head coach Tom Coughlin after he was reprimanded for getting a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct flag during a tirade involving offensive interference.
Most recently, he blew off a medical treatment scheduled for the day before last Sunday's game in Pittsburgh and was punished, however mildly, by not starting and then not entering the game until 11:27 remained in the second quarter.
So the other day he 'fessed up -- well, sort of. "I am human," he said. "I have made some mistakes. I haven't made the best of decisions. I am aware of that and I am the first one to look at myself in the mirror, be honest with myself and say that, but as far as me going out and playing as hard as I can, I plan to keep doing that."
The 6-6, 225-pound receiver frightens defenses into double-teaming him and intimidates teammates in the locker room, mostly because it is unknown what minor infraction will become blown all out of proportion by his antics.
Head coach Tom Coughlin, predictably pragmatic, must first care about the team and its 6-1 record and Sunday's impending big game with Dallas, but he does say this, when asked how it has been like to deal with Burress and his situations: "Well, we are doing the best we can. Remember that everything we do is in the best interests of Plaxico and our team."
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