Scouting Report: Dallas Cowboys

Get the complete lowdown on the Dallas Cowboys in this exclusive scouting report, including injury updates and key matchups for Sunday's game at Dolphin Stadium.

INSIDE SLANT

With the Cowboys struggling on defense, the scores of the team's games might look like the Western Athletic Conference in 2007.

The Cowboys will be in a few shootouts and might find themselves having to outscore teams to win games. That certainly might be the case Sunday when the Cowboys (1-0) face the Dolphins (0-1).

Never mind that the Dolphins looked hapless on offense in the season-opening loss to the Redskins.

They have a couple of big-play receivers in Chris Chambers and Ted Ginn Jr. and that could be more than enough to put up points against the Cowboys' injury-riddled defense and suspect secondary.

The Cowboys understand as much.

And based on their 45-point output in the season opener against the Giants, they are more than ready to win shootouts every week.

Quarterback Tony Romo passed for a career-high 345 yards in the opener and accounted for five touchdowns. Even without injured receiver Terry Glenn, the Cowboys let it be known they have enough weapons to be very explosive on offense with tight end Jason Witten and receiver Terrell Owens leading the way.

"We have a good offense," Romo said. "We are trying to go out there and score points. We got a chance to win a lot of games with that. We have a great tight end, a great receiver and some really good backs. I just need to get the ball in their hands and let them make plays."

The Cowboys are so confident in their abilities on offense that receiver Patrick Crayton thinks they can threaten the NFL record for points in a season of 556 set by the 1998 Vikings.

"If we have to outscore teams to win, we will do it," Crayton said. "I knew we could be pretty explosive. I told Bull (backup quarterback Brad Johnson) before the season I wanted to score 557 points. His Vikings set the record with 556. I told him I wanted to score 557. His eyes opened when I said it. But I am serious. I still am. We are off to a good start."

Owens, who looks more and more like the Owens of 2004 with the Eagles, is happy again and also excited about the possibilities on offense. He said they could have scored 50 or 60 points against the Giants.

"It doesn't surprise me that Patrick is predicting a record-breaking season," Owens said. "We could have put up at least three more touchdowns. We know we have a dynamic offense. We set the bar for ourselves against the Giants. So if we need to put however many points on the board to win the game that is what we are going to do. That can happen."

NOTES, QUOTES

-- The situation in Buffalo with tight end Kevin Everett facing paralysis hit home for a number of Cowboys in understanding just how dangerous it can be on the football field.

"Stuff like that really makes you take it serious and make sure that you're blessed to be out here and doing this," safety Ken Hamlin said. "Hopefully he's getting better every day."

Hamlin would know. He suffered a life-threatening head trauma two years ago as a result of a street fight while playing with the Seahawks.

But having something happen like that on the field is still tough to visualize, defensive end Marcus Spears said.

"I'm pretty sure cops think about getting killed in the line of duty sometimes," Spears said. "But you go through those things and try to find a fine line in between that, you get ready to play mentally, and you get ready to play physically, you work out, and you do all those things to try to prevent things like that from happening, but in all actuality, they will at some point.

"Sometimes you've almost got to rule it out. You've got to go out there and unconsciously not think about it."

-- CB Anthony Henry is a Miami native and looking forward to Sunday's game against the Dolphins. He said he has purchased more than 20 tickets for friends and family to attend the game.

-- Miami is one of only six teams to hold a winning record against Dallas (Baltimore, Cleveland, Oakland, St. Louis and San Francisco). Dallas' first game against Miami was in Super Bowl VI.

The Cowboys and Dolphins have played each other four times on Thanksgiving Day, with Miami winning three of those. Seven of the 11 games have been decided by a touchdown or less.

-- A Cowboys win would allow Dallas to claim back-to-back wins to open a season for the first time since 1999.

It would also increase Dallas' all-time record against AFC foes to 76-57 and give the Cowboys four straight wins over AFC opponents for the first time since the 1996 and 1997 seasons.

-- The game against the Dolphins marks the Cowboys' first of four interconference games of the season. Since 1970, the Cowboys boast the NFC's highest-winning percentage (.568) when facing an AFC team and rank third in wins (75). Only San Francisco (78) and St. Louis (76) own more interconference wins than Dallas.

-- The first time the Dolphins and Cowboys met, it was the biggest game of the 1971 season -- Super Bowl VI. The Dallas Cowboys were making their second consecutive trip to the Super Bowl while the Dolphins were making their first of three consecutive appearances. Dallas racked up 252 yards on the ground while Roger Staubach threw for 119 more to take home a 24-3 Super Bowl win in front of 81,035 fans. The last time these two clubs met, the Dolphins visited the Cowboys for the third time on Thanksgiving Day (11/27/03). Miami had a lot to be thankful for as they left Texas Stadium with a 40-21 win in front of 64,110 fans.

BY THE NUMBERS

80 -- The total points scored between the Dallas Cowboys and N.Y. Giants last week was the highest point total in the history of the series between the two teams. It was also the third-most total points scored in a single game in the history of the Cowboys.

45 -- The 45 points Dallas scored against the Giants also tied the second-highest points total for the Cowboys in the series against the Giants.

6 -- The season-opening win for the Cowboys was highlighted by six offensive touchdowns -- a figure that tied for the fourth-most offensive touchdowns by a Cowboys team to open a season.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

PLAYER PERSONNEL NOTES

-- NT Remi Ayodele was signed to the roster to replace the injured Jason Ferguson, who was placed on injured reserve after tearing his biceps muscle in the season opener. Ayodele was in training camp with the Cowboys before being cut before the season opener. His return is the realization of a dream for Ayodele who gets to play on the same team with his brother, linebacker Akin Ayodele, for the first time.

-- QB Tony Romo was named the NFC Offensive Player of the Week following the 45-35 victory against the Giants. Romo electrified the home crowd by passing for a career-high 345 yards with five touchdowns (four passing, one rushing) in the Cowboys' 45-35 win on Sunday night over the division rival New York Giants. Romo completed 62.5 percent of his passes (15 of 24) and posted a passer rating of 128.5. His four touchdown passes were the most thrown by a Dallas quarterback on Kickoff Weekend since 1999, when Pro Football Hall of Famer Troy Aikman tossed five TDs. The Cowboys' 45 points were the club's most in an opener since 1971 when the team went on to win Super Bowl VI.

-- WR Terrell Owens had his 27th career multiple touchdown game with two on three catches for 87 yards last week against the N.Y. Giants.

-- LB Kevin Burnett will get a bigger load against the Dolphins after playing just special teams in the season opener. The Cowboys wanted to bring him along slowly after having arthroscopic surgery two weeks ago. Now he will play in the nickel and spell starter Akin Ayodele.

-- CB Jacques Reeves was one of the few bright spots in the secondary following the season-opening victory against the Giants. He had three pass deflections, two tackles and an interception. The Cowboys expect his confidence to grow as he continues to fill in for injured cornerback Terence Newman.

GAME PLAN

The Cowboys will try to establish the ground game against a Dolphins defense that gave up 191 yards on the ground in the season opener and then strike with big plays to receiver Terrell Owens and tight end Jason Witten. Defensively, they must stop the run and not give up any big plays against a Dolphins offense that mustered only 273 yards in the season opener.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH

Cowboys ground game vs. Dolphins rush defense: Cowboys running backs Julius Jones and Marion Barber have watched plenty of tape of the Dolphins defense against the Redskins. Running backs Clinton Portis and Ladell Betts led a 191-yard effort on the ground and the Redskins controlled the ball and the game. Jones and Barber will be looking to do the same on Sunday. They combined for 131 yards in the season opener against the Giants. Behind the Cowboys' huge offensive line, they hope to do the same and more against the Redskins and set up big plays down the field in the passing game.

Dolphins receivers vs. Cowboys secondary: The Cowboys will be suspect in the secondary as long as Newman is out of the lineup. Dolphins receiver Chris Chambers and Co. will look to exploit not only unproven Reeves, but the rest of the Cowboys secondary is also susceptible to giving up big plays, namely cornerback Anthony Henry and safety Roy Williams. The Cowboys simply can't run the schemes they like to run with Newman on the sideline. They will be more of a zone-coverage team with Reeves in the lineup in an attempt to prevent big plays over the top.

INJURY IMPACT

-- LB Greg Ellis participated in practice on a limited basis on Wednesday. Ellis has been sidelined since suffering a torn left Achilles last November. He had not practiced since going out with bursitis on the first day of training camp. Cowboys coach Wade Phillips said he was a step closer in getting Ellis back on the field. However, he is still doubtful for Sunday's game against the Dolphins.

-- CB Terence Newman participated in practice Wednesday for the first time in nearly a month because of a tear in his right plantar fascia. It was an attempt to see what Newman can do. His status for Sunday's game against the Dolphins is still up in the air. If he can't go, Reeves will start for a second straight week.


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