Panthers vs. Cowboys Pregame Notes

Get the latest news and notes for the Panthers and Cowboys matchup on Saturday.

Panthers

The Panthers filled Stephen Davis' roster spot with wide receiver Efrem Hill, who has been on the practice squad all season.

Hill hasn't done anything in the league yet and is perhaps best known as the clone of cornerback Chris Gamble, although he doesn't see the physical resemblance.

Both have long dreadlocks.

"Some people do confuse me with him a little bit outside of the locker room," Hill said. "But I don't see it."

The team also added wide receiver Chris Sapp to the practice squad.

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--LB Dan Morgan will play Saturday, but is still experiencing soreness in both his ankle and shoulder. At this point, Morgan is just fighting to get through the season and remain on the field.

--DE Mike Rucker will not be going to the Pro Bowl, despite a solid season that has included 7 1/2 sacks, 29 quarterback pressures, three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.

--RB DeShaun Foster should get the bulk of carries against the Cowboys on Saturday. Foster is listed as probable on the injury report but will be ready to go this Saturday.

--WR Steve Smith will be looking for his ninth 100-yard receiving game when the Panthers host the Cowboys on Saturday. He may find the going tough against a solid Dallas secondary. Smith has a sore back in Wednesday's practice, but was not added to the injury report.

--G Mike Wahle turned in immediate dividends for the Panthers by making the Pro Bowl in his first season with the Panthers.

--P Jason Baker is second in the NFC in punting average and is a first alternate for the Pro Bowl in his first season with Carolina.

GAME PLAN: Carolina plans to commit extra defenders to the run to slow down Julius Jones and Marion Barber, force the Cowboys to become one-dimensional and make Drew Bledsoe beat them. On offense, DeShaun Foster will see the bulk of carries, but Nick Goings will spell him quite a bit. Obviously, the Panthers will try to get the ball to WR Steve Smith and could use four-receiver sets to keep the Cowboys off balance.

Cowboys

--S Roy Williams and G Larry Allen were the only two Cowboys named to the Pro Bowl for the NFC.

Allen made it for a 10th time, tying cornerback Mel Renfro as the second-most decorated player in team history. Defensive tackle Bob Lilly went to 11 Pro Bowls. Williams made it for the third straight year.

"It's cool," Williams said. "It's a reflection of my team's accomplishments and success. It's an honor and a blessing."

TE Jason Witten, who made the Pro Bowl last year, is a first alternate.

--Through 14 games, the Dallas Cowboys are the only team in the league with three players over 650 receiving yards (Terry Glenn, 1,004; Jason Witten, 698; Keyshawn Johnson, 653). The Cowboys are on the verge of having three players top the 700-yard receiving mark for the season. It would be just the third time in club history that Dallas has had that happen, and the first time since 1986. Defensively, Dallas has had 15 players record a sack this season. Only San Diego (16) has had more people involved in getting to the quarterback.

--Through the 2005 season, the Dallas Cowboys have enjoyed great success in the fourth quarter, outscoring opponents 93-47 in the final frame - yielding an average of 3.4 points in the quarter. Eight times this season, Cowboys opponents have been held scoreless in the fourth quarter.

The Chicago Bears are the only team in the league to allow fewer fourth-quarter points (44) than the Cowboys.

--DT Thomas Johnson was inactive for the first 13 games of the season, but made his NFL debut last week against the Redskins and posted three tackles.

--WR Keyshawn Johnson has recorded at least one catch in each of the 149 games he has played. He is second on the team in receptions (60), tied for the lead in touchdown catches (six) and is third on the team in receiving yards (635).

--TE Jason Witten is currently fifth in the NFL among tight ends in receptions (61) and sixth in receiving yards (698). With four catches last week, he joined Doug Cosbie (1984-85) as the only two tight ends in club history with back-to-back 60-catch seasons.

--WR Terry Glenn leads the team - and is 12th in the league - with 1,004 receiving yards and is third on the team with 56 receptions. He currently averages 17.9 yards per catch, third-best in the league. With 25 receiving yards last week, he became the first Dallas receiver since Raghib Ismail (1999) to top the 1,000-yard mark, doing so for the third time in his career. He is the seventh player in Cowboys history to do so.

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--CB Anthony Henry, arguably the team's first half defensive MVP, said he won't be healthy for the rest of the season.

Henry, who missed three games earlier with a strained groin, is now playing through an abdominal strain.

"I did it in the Kansas City game," Henry said. "It hurts, but I'll play through it. I'm not going to use it as an excuse. It is what it is, and I'll try to keep playing."

--QB Drew Bledsoe offered suggestions to coach Bill Parcells on how to help the Cowboys get back on a winning track after losing three of their last four games. The Cowboys have fallen behind by at least a touchdown in each of the last four games. Bledsoe said they need to get off to better starts, especially on the road where it's hard to play catch-up.

"Both the type of plays we've used to start the game and also just the mindset, and make sure we get started positively in the game," Bledsoe said. "There are a couple of ways we can address that to hopefully get us started out on the right foot. This year when we have started pretty fast, we have played pretty well the whole game."

--G Marco Rivera (strained neck) has yet to practice this week but the Cowboys are not ruling him out of Saturday's game against the Panthers. If Rivera is not ready, Parcells said Andre Gurode would start at right guard. Gurode started at right guard the past two seasons to less than stellar reviews from coach Bill Parcells. He was moved to backup center when the Cowboys signed Rivera in the off-season. Parcells said he is comfortable with Gurode at guard against the Panthers because he has been a much improved player this year.

--T Torrin Tucker allowed four sacks against the Redskins last Sunday. So he stated the obvious when he took the blame for the offensive line woes in the game. "I was the ringleader," Tucker said. "That was the worst game I ever played."

Cowboys coach Bill Parcells said the pass offense hasn't been the same since Tucker replaced an injured Flozell Adams.

GAME PLAN: The Cowboys must find a way to start faster. They have lost four of their last five road games partly because they have fallen behind early and had to play catch-up. Of course, it all begins up front for the Cowboys offense. They must find a way to protect quarterback Drew Bledsoe and open holes in the ground game. Defensively, the must stop the run and contain speedy receiver Steve Smith.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH

Cowboys WR Terry Glenn vs. Panthers CB Ken Lucas - Glenn is having a terrific season for Dallas, but he'll face a cornerback who is spitting mad in Lucas. Lucas felt he got snubbed when he was named a third alternate to the Pro Bowl and feels that if he plays well against Glenn on Sunday he may show people they were wrong.

Panthers WR Steve Smith vs. the Cowboys' cornerbacks - Smith vs. the mass unit that is the Cowboys' secondary is simply a mismatch. Smith is playing so well that he is considered a league most valuable player candidate. "You have to do something about him or attempt to do something about him," Cowboys coach Bill Parcells said. What the Cowboys are able to do might depend on who they have on the field. Cornerback Anthony Henry is hobbled by an abdominal strain and cornerback Aaron Glenn is struggling with a high ankle sprain. They may choose to use Terence Newman to shadow Smith but not the entire game, Parcells said.

Cowboys Ts Rob Petitti and Torrin Tucker vs. Panthers DEs Mike Rucker and Julius Peppers - Petitti and Tucker have been the weak links on offense all season. They gave up six sacks last week. Now they face Rucker and Peppers, who are among the league's top DE tandems. At this point, the Cowboys are helpless to do anything about it. If they keep extra blockers in, they won't have enough receivers in the pass routes to make plays. If they send the receivers out, Tucker and Petitti are sure to get beat.

INJURY IMPACT

The Panthers have three players listed on the injury report as probable, including running back DeShaun Foster, but are very healthy heading into Saturday's game against the Dallas Cowboys.

G Marco Rivera is listed as questionable with a strained neck. He has improved and the Cowboys believe he might be available. Still, center Andre Gurode has been getting snaps at right guard as has Cory Proctor.

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