Poised and Ready

The Cowboys are rested and rejuvenated for a second-half playoff run.

At 5-4, they must go at least 5-2 over the final seven to get to 10-6 and have a chance at a wild-card playoff spot.

Even then it's not guaranteed.

But as bad as the Cowboys played, they are not without hope. Quarterback Tony Romo and host of other injured players are back and ready to go. Coach Wade Phillips said the team just needs to go on a run like they did to start last season when they opened 12-1.

"You got to get on a run in this league," Phillips said. "We were able to last year. We got a chance to come back and win some games. Our players believe we can. Getting our quarterback back is going to help us. It gives us a chance to make more plays. You make more plays gives you a better chance to win."

The Cowboys, however, know that they will not reach their goals if they don't open with a win against the Redskins in what is a must-win game.

"If we get the sixth win against Washington, that's the one we're worried about," Phillips said. "You don't know where the number is going to be. ... The only thing you can control is what you do, so we got to control it.

"This is as big a game as we've played this year," Jason Witten said. "Got to be realistic with it. At this point, we realize there is little room for error."

PLAYER/PERSONNEL NOTES
--QB Tony Romo is getting better and better and should have no problems playing Sunday against the Redskins after missing the previous three games with a fractured pinky.

"Romo is better and better," coach Wade Phillips said. "Last week he was OK. Today he was a lot better, I think. He had more zip on the ball. He felt more comfortable. He's still taking snaps -- didn't seem to be a problem. It's looking better and better for him as far as getting back to where he was."

--RB Felix Jones is optimistic about playing against the Redskins Sunday after missing three games with a torn hamstring. However, he didn't practice Monday and there is no guarantee he is going to practice Wednesday. The Cowboys are being cautious and will not rush him back into the lineup.

"Yeah, I felt like I could have (practiced), but rest is more important," Jones said. "I feel like Wednesday I will be out there ready to go, and I'm feeling good."

--QB Brad Johnson may be the third quarterback but he may be active against the Redskins because he is the team's holder. The Cowboys have no other proven alternatives and the team will not chance a missed PAT or field goal on not getting the snap down.

WR Patrick Crayton and punter Sam Paulescu are options but neither have done it in a game.

--CB Orlando Scandrick will remain the slot cornerback in nickel situations even though Terence Newman is back from injury. It means that first-round pick Mike Jenkins will head to the bench.

--TE Jason Witten will play against the Redskins but he still has a broken rib and it still bothers him.

"I feel better but it's still there, you know?" Witten said. "But just moving around in practice, I feel better and better."

--WR Terrell Owens said the Cowboys are just as perplexed by their struggles as everyone else.

"Just from the talent that's in this room," Owens said. "You kind of scratch your head and say, 'OK, well, why aren't we winning?' As a whole, we kind of know what's going on. It's not my job to kind of say what's going on. We just have to correct those things and play better, take coaching and go out there and play like we're capable of."

--WR Roy Williams has three catches in three games with the Cowboys. He's frustrated with the role but the Cowboys have no regrets about the decision to acquire him from Detroit. They are happy with how he has learned the offense and think things will be better now that quarterback Tony Romo is back from injury. Williams has caught passes from Romo just twice, last Thursday and last Monday in practice.

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