GAMEDAY: Panthers vs. Cowboys

Panthers rookie QB Matt Moore didn't put up eye-popping numbers in winning his first career start last Sunday, but he did an excellent job of helping Carolina dominate time of possession. He'll need to lead a similar charge against the Cowboys, relying on quick drops and short to medium passes to get rid of the ball before Dallas' strong pass rush gets to him.</

Dallas Cowboys (12-2) at Carolina Panthers (6-8)

GAME SNAPSHOT

KICKOFF: Saturday, 8:15 ET

GAMEDATE: 12/22/07

SURFACE: Grass

TV: NFL Network, Greg Gumbel, Cris Collinsworth

SERIES: 10th meeting. Dallas leads series, 6-3. Dallas won the last meeting at Carolina, 35-14 last season, in quarterback Tony Romo's first career start.

KEYS TO THE GAME: Cowboys offensive coordinator Jason Garrett took some heat for calling just 13 running plays against Philadelphia. Expect a stark change Saturday, with RBs Marion Barber and Julius Jones playing a major role with Romo nicked up. Also look for WR Terrell Owens to be on the move seeking mismatches after catching just five passes the past two games. ... Panthers rookie QB Matt Moore didn't put up eye-popping numbers in winning his first career start last Sunday, but he did an excellent job of helping Carolina dominate time of possession. He'll need to lead a similar charge against the Cowboys, relying on quick drops and short to medium passes to get rid of the ball before Dallas' strong pass rush gets to him.

KEY INJURIES: Cowboys: Romo (bruised thumb) should play; WR Terry Glenn (knee) isn't expected to return this week; C Andre Gurode (knee sprain) likely will miss at least one game. Panthers: DE Julius Peppers (knee) is uncertain; S Chris Harris (hip) has been limited this week.

FAST FACTS: Dallas would clinch home-field advantage in the NFC with a win and a loss by Green Bay. ... Cowboys TE Jason Witten has broken the franchise record with 340 career receptions for a tight end. ... Peppers has 7.0 sacks in four career games against Dallas.

PERSONNEL NEWS:

Cowboys:

--SS Roy Williams has been suspended one game by the league for repeated violations of the horse collar rule. He has appealed the suspension, which arose after he was flagged for a horse collar on Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb. A ruling on the appeal will be made on Wednesday so Williams was allowed to practice with the Cowboys on Tuesday. He was fined twice early in the season for horse collar tackles against the Bills and Bears. Ironically, the rule was created as a response Williams' use of the technique. He was fined once last season. Keith Davis will start in Williams' place if the ruling is not over-turned. Davis started 21 games in 2005 and 2006.

--C Andre Gurode is not expected to play Saturday because of a sprained left knee. Cory Proctor will likely start in his place.

--FS Pat Watkins will miss Saturday's game against the Panthers because of a sprained ankle. Look for rookie Courtney Brown to replace him as the safety in the dime defense.

--DE Chris Canty practiced Tuesday and will be ready for the Panthers game on Saturday.

--TE Anthony Fasano practiced on Tuesday and should be ready for the Panthers game after suffering a concussion against the Eagles.

--WR Terry Glenn went through a walk through practice on Tuesday but will don pads for the first time on Wednesday and go through a full workout in hopes of being able to make his season debut against the Panthers Saturday. Glenn has missed the entire season with a knee injury.

--QB Tony Romo did not throw any passes or take any snaps from center on Tuesday. He still is nursing a bruised right thumb. He will probably take some shotgun snaps on Wednesday as the Cowboys try to ease him into action before Saturday's game against the Panthers.

Panthers:

--QB Matt Moore will start his second straight game on Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys. He will need to be more productive than last week for the Panthers to pick up a win this time around.

--QB Vinny Testaverde missed practice on Thursday and it's uncertain if he will be the No. 2 quarterback or the No. 3 against Dallas.

--RB DeAngelo Williams will get more than three carries this week against Seattle, but will not necessarily start of get the majority of the touches. He carried 17 times the week before.

--DE Julius Peppers missed his third straight day of practice with a knee sprain.

--DE Charles Johnson, a rookie, could start for the Panthers in place of Julius Peppers.

--WR Keary Colbert (knee) has missed the entire week of practice and is not likely to play against Dallas.

--WR Ryne Robinson will be more involved in the offense this week with Keary Colbert out with a knee injury.

--RG Jeremy Bridges returned to practice after missing practice Wednesday because of a tooth problem.

INSIDE THE CAMPS:

Cowboys:

The Cowboys sent a team- and NFL record-tying 11 players to the Pro Bowl, led by seven starters and quarterback Tony Romo, who is a backup to Green Bay's Brett Favre.

The starters were tight end Jason Witten, wide receiver Terrell Owens, guard Leonard Davis, tackle Flozell Adams, center Andre Gurode, linebacker DeMarcus Ware and rookie kicker Nick Folk.

Reserves along with Romo were safety Ken Hamlin, running back Marion Barber and cornerback Terence Newman.

Safety Roy Williams was among four Cowboys listed as first alternates, meaning the Cowboys should set a new mark with 12 Pro Bowlers considering that Redskins safety Sean Taylor was selected posthumously.

The other alternates were linebacker Greg Ellis, punter Mat McBriar and special teams standout Keith Davis.

The news was soul southing for a Cowboys team that is reeling from the shocking loss to the Eagles on Sunday, snapping a seven-game win streak.

They are also nursing injuries to key players, including Romo, center Andre Gurode and safety Pat Watkins.

And they are shell-shocked by the NFL handing down a one-game suspension on Williams for repeated use of the horse collar tackle.

Coach Wade Phillips said it was the pick-me-up they needed going into Saturdays game against the Panthers.

"The team was tremendously excited," Phillips said. "When I announced to the team they were jumping up and down. It was real exciting. I got a real good feeling we are back as a team over losing a game. The road goes on forever and the party never ends."

Said Witten: "Any time you have that many on the team it's special because of the season we are having," Witten said. "Along the way accolades come but we talked about it in the team meeting. We are excited but there are big goals out there for us. It's about the Super Bowl. And as much as we want to be proud we have had a tough time following the loss. We still have that bitter taste."

Panthers:

There's a pretty good chance the Carolina Panthers will be without defensive end Julius Peppers on Saturday night when they host the Dallas Cowboys.

Peppers sprained his knee during last Sunday's win over Seattle and has missed all three days of work, including Thursday's walk through. It's extremely rare when coach John Fox plays a player who has not practiced all week.

However, the team doesn't have to list an injury report until Friday. Expect Peppers to go down as questionable.

If Peppers can't go, it will be interesting to see who starts.

Stanley McClover came into the season as the top backup at defensive end, but has not played well at all this season. Rookie Charles Johnson, the team's third-round draft pick out of Georgia, played his first NFL game last week against Seattle, coming in off the bench. The Panthers don't have any other defensive ends on their roster, although defensive tackle Kindal Moorehead could slide outside.

Wide receiver Keary Colbert (knee) appears likely to miss his third straight game with a knee injury. Safety Chris Harris (hip) missed his second straight day of practice, raising concerns about his availability and quarterback Vinny Testaverde (Achilles' tendon) was also held out.


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