EXCLUSIVE: Eyeing the Wounded Birds

IRVING, Tex. - The Dallas Cowboys faced one of the NFC's elite teams Sunday and came away with an impressive victory over the Atlanta Falcons.

A week later, Dallas faces a Seattle team saddled with a 2-4 record, looking up in the standings at two of its NFC West foes and with several key starters either questionable — or already out — of Sunday's game against the Cowboys.

All-world left tackle Walter Jones is done for the year. Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck has been beaten up — he left Saturday's game with San Francisco with a rib injury — and middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu is listed as "questionable," although there is widespread speculation that all three could be nothing more than high-priced spectators Sunday.

The most important of the three, in terms of Dallas safety Gerald Sensabaugh's preparation, is Hasselbeck. There are some reports circulating that Hasselbeck's rib is broken and that he is out for Sunday's game, and perhaps for the entire season, but Sensabaugh said he'll believe Hasselbeck won't play when Sunday's game is over and Hasselbeck remained on the sideline. If Hasselbeck can't play, fleet-footed Seneca Wallace is expected to start in his place.

"Hasselbeck's a pretty tough guy, so I'm pretty sure he'll be out there playing," Sensabaugh said. "(The Cowboys won't have) two gameplans, but we just have to know that when one quarterback (Wallace) is in there, the possibility of scrambling goes up. Seneca likes to make a lot of plays with his feet, getting out of the pocket and throwing outside the pocket, but we'll be prepared for that."

Regardless of which quarterback plays, Sensabaugh said the loss of Jones — a likely first-ballot Hall-of-Famer when he retires — is a major loss to the Seattle offense.

"I'm not sure what to expect, because I'm not sure who they have to replace him," Sensabaugh said, "but he's a great tackle, and any time you have to replace a guy as talented as he is, it can be pretty tough."

Sensabaugh admitted that Jones' absence from the Seahawks' lineup should make Dallas linebacker DeMarcus Ware lick his chops as he prepares to chase the Seattle quarterback — whether it's Hasselbeck or Wallace — in Sunday's game.

"Yeah, he (Ware) should be, but we're all licking our chops a little," Sensabaugh said. "We're ready to get out there and play again after the game we had Sunday. Our guys are going to be ready to pressure, no matter who's at tackle or on the O-line. We're going to get pressure, regardless."

Sensabaugh said that his surgically repaired right thumb, which was heavily wrapped in Sunday's win over the Falcons, didn't bother him or change his aggressive approach, and said he sees no reason for that to change.

"It's pretty good — it's healing up pretty well, I've got a new cast on it today, and I'm ready to go," he said. "I'll throw it in there. It didn't hurt me tackling — it didn't help me catching the ball, but as far as tackling, it didn't bother me at all."

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