Dallas Cowboys (4-2) at Seattle Seahawks (4-2)
KICKOFF: Sunday, 4:05 ET
TV: FOX, Dick Stockton, Troy Aikman, Pam Oliver
SERIES: 10th meeting. Dallas leads the series 6-3. Dallas's come-from-behind win at Seattle last season marked the first time in club history that a Dallas team scored two touchdowns in the final two minutes of regulation to win a game. Two of the nine series contests have been decided by a touchdown or less, while six of the games have been decided by two touchdowns or more. Dallas holds a 3-1 record when playing in Seattle, including 1-0 at Qwest Field. This will be the third meeting between the two clubs since the Seahawks returned to the NFC in 2002, after the two clubs met three times in 15 years between 1987-2001.
2005 RANKINGS: Cowboys: offense 6th (16th rush, 6th pass); defense 7th (8th rush, 14th pass). Seahawks: offense 1st (2nd rush, 9th pass); defense 13th (12th rush, 16th pass)
KEYS TO THE GAME: Dallas already was forced to often provide extra pass-blocking help for rookie RT Rob Petitti, and now Torrin Tucker, who lost his starting job to Petitti, takes over for injured LT Flozell Adams. Seattle doesn't have great pass-rushers, but the Cowboys will still look to control the game on the ground -- with or without ailing RB Julius Jones. If they can do that, then QB Drew Bledsoe can take shots at a Seattle secondary minus injured FS Ken Hamlin. Dallas leads the league with a 46.6 third-down conversion rate, and keeping the ball away from Seattle's No. 1-ranked offense is paramount. Seahawks RB Shaun Alexander needs to keep running the ball well to protect QB Matt Hasselbeck from the Cowboys' various looks out of their 3-4 front. Rookie LB DeMarcus Ware had a sack, an interception and two forced fumbles in the preseason meeting, and has four sacks in his past four games.
FAST FACTS: Cowboys: Lead the league in average time of possession (34:14). ... Coach Bill Parcells needs one victory to tie Paul Brown (170) for 9th-most all-time. Seahawks: Alexander needs 55 rushing yards to pass Chris Warren (6,706) for most in franchise history. ... Hasselbeck has 566 passing yards and a 106.3 passer rating in three career games vs. Dallas.
--WR Peerless Price last returned punts when he was with the Bills in 2001, but he is ready to resume those duties with the Cowboys in place of the injured Patrick Crayton. The Cowboys are also considering running back Marion Barber and cornerback Terence Newman for the role but they are counting on Price, who returned kicks in Buffalo under current Cowboys special teams coach Bruce DeHaven. "He knows we need somebody to do it," Parcells said. "He's fine with it."
--RB Julius Jones (ankle) did not practice on Thursday. He remains questionable for the Seahawks game. Jones said he would disappointed if he couldn't play against the Seahawks. Not only because it's a return to the site of his best game _ a 189-yard, three-touchdown performance as a rookie last year _ but because he would be there for his team. "It sucks sitting on the sideline watching," Jones said. "We are playing well and I want to be a part of it. I want to play."
--LB Dat Nguyen (stinger) practiced for the second straight day. He is listed as probable on the injury report, though it will be a game time decision. If Nguyen does play it may be on a situational basis in the nickel defense only.
--TE Dan Campbell (groin) has practiced without a hitch this week. Cowboys coach Bill Parcells removed him from the injury report. He was previously listed as probable.
--LB D.D. Lewis (knee) returned to practice Thursday. He remained questionable on the injury report.
--FB Mack Strong (shoulder) was removed from the injury report. He had been probable. Strong practiced Thursday for a second consecutive day.
--RT Floyd Womack (quadriceps) was removed from the injury report. He had been probable. Womack practiced Thursday for a second consecutive day.
--CB Andre Dyson (hamstring) missed practice again Thursday, as expected. His status was considered a game-time decision. He remained questionable.
--LT Wayne Hunter (hamstring) missed practice again Thursday. He remained questionable.
INSIDE THE CAMPS:
Cowboys coach Bill Parcells was once one of tackle Torrin Tucker's biggest detractors. Now he is one of his biggest fans. Not coincidentally, Parcells is counting on Tucker to replace injured Flozell Adams at left tackle against the Seahawks on Sunday.
Parcells will likely give Tucker some help from a back on pass plays. But he said the third-year veteran, who started 13 games at right tackle last season before he was benched for poor play, has improved his conditioning, weight and technique since the end of training camp. Tucker has played mostly on special teams in six games this season. "Coming into training camp, I had my questions about him. He kind of came along," Parcells said. "Torrin was a kid, when he first came (to the Cowboys), he was a classic example of somebody who didn't have a clue. Now he has a much better idea."
Tucker has lost around 40 pounds to his current 315. He believes he is better about not getting down on himself after making a mistake, which added to his woes last season.
"I feel like I'm a better player," Tucker said. "I'm learning how to be a football player at this level, and what it takes to maintain and be in good graces. Staying in shape, don't be overweight, show up for workouts on time, studying extra film. Whatever it takes to be a better player and a better person, that's what you have to do."
Coach Mike Holmgren made headlines this week by supposedly banning his players from the area of downtown Seattle where FS Ken Hamlin suffered serious head injuries during a scuffle early Monday. The "ban" was really more of a stern request. Coaches obviously cannot control where their players go during their down time. But by making the "ban" public, Holmgren reinforced the message he has tried to drive home to players over the years.
"I did talk to the team about staying away from that area down there starting out - coaches and players," Holmgren said. "It's not necessary to go down there and hang out down there. This wasn't an isolated incident down in that neck of the woods.
"I probably didn't even have to say that. I think they probably would have handled that anyway. Now we are taking the next step of saying, 'OK, you can't go down there anymore.' "
Much gets written about what coaches and organizations can do help players make the right choices off the field. But the choices still come down to the players. "Everything is a choice," RB Shaun Alexander said. "Sometimes you are caught in a situation that you never want to be in, but it happens in many different ways. We learn as a team together. We've been doing it for years now and we'll learn from this."
New Orleans Saints (2-3) at St. Louis Rams (2-3)
KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 ET
TV: FOX, Curt Menefee, JC Pearson
SERIES: 66th meeting. The Rams lead the series 36-29, but the Saints have won three of the last five games with each of those victories coming in the Edward Jones Dome. The Saints hold a 1-0 edge in the post-season, taking a 31-28 win in an NFC wild-card playoff game in 2000.
2005 RANKINGS: Saints: offense 9th (9th rush, 17th pass); defense 12th (26th rush, 5th pass). Rams: offense 4th (23rd rush, 4th pass); defense 26th (19th rush, 29th pass)
KEYS TO THE GAME: The Rams have plummeted to minus-9 in turnover ratio, thanks in large part to no forced turnovers from their defense the past three games. New Orleans tied a franchise record with 32 first downs last Sunday and should be able to move the ball up and down the field on St. Louis' battered secondary. The Rams will likely counter with a heavy dose of the running game, which is ironic for one of the league's most pass-happy offenses. But with QB Marc Bulger expected to miss the game and backup Jamie Martin struggling with turnovers Monday night, the Rams would be best served by attacking a Saints run defense allowing 129.0 yards per game and 4.4 yards per carry. Between RBs Steven Jackson and Marshall Faulk, St. Louis has a chance to control the clock and help keep its defense in its most effective spot -- the sideline.
FAST FACTS: Saints: Have a three-game road winning streak against St. Louis. ... QB Aaron Brooks needs five touchdown passes to pass Archie Manning (115) for most in franchise history. Rams: Are 27-7 in their past 34 home games. ... RB Marshall Faulk needs 24 rushing yards to pass Franco Harris (12,120) for 10th-most all-time.
--WR Joe Horn, who re-aggravated a left hamstring injury last Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons, did not practice again Thursday and is questionable for this week's game with the St. Louis Rams.
--RT Jammal Brown was sidelined for last week's game with a sprained left ankle and is questionable for Sunday after not practicing this week.
--SLB James Allen has missed the last two games with a left hamstring injury and is questionable this week. He has also missed time with a knee problem and may be headed for injured reserve, said coach Jim Haslett.
--SS Dwight Smith worked Thursday, but remains questionable for Sunday's game with a sprained medial collateral ligament in his knee.
--RG Jermane Mayberry did not start last Sunday's game with the Falcons because of a shoulder problem but may be able to return against the Rams after practicing Wednesday and Thursday.
--RG Montrae Holland, who replaced Jermane Mayberry in the starting lineup last week, has a sprained knee and is questionable for Sunday. He was able to practice Thursday.
--RB Aaron Stecker is questionable for this week's game because of an Achilles' tendon problem.
--FS Mel Mitchell, who has a left hamstring injury that has sidelined him for the last two games, is questionable for this week.
--WLB T.J. Slaughter continues to nurse a right groin injury and is questionable for Sunday's game.
--WR Donte Stallworth came out of last week's game with a hamstring injury and is day-to-day although he isn't listed on the injury report.
--TE Shad Meier, who had knee surgery in early August, has not played in the regular season and his return is uncertain.
--QB Marc Bulger said an MRI of his right shoulder was encouraging, and that he feels better at this time than he did last year at the same time after injuring the same shoulder. While listed as questionable, Bulger won't play this week, but remains a possibility for the following week's game against Jacksonville.
--WR Isaac Bruce, who has missed the last three games because of a toe injury, is getting closer to playing. Bruce took some snaps with the first unit at practice on Thursday.
--G Claude Terrell was back with the first unit at left guard in practice Thursday. Terrell graded out well against the Colts on Monday, but needs to be in better condition. He ran out of gas late in the game.
--C/G Richie Incognito practiced Thursday, beginning a 21-day period in which he can be evaluated. Incognito underwent knee surgery in May after being selected by the Rams in the third round. After 21 days, the Rams must either activate Incognito or keep him on the non-football injury list for the remainder of the season. Interim coach Joe Vitt said he was impressed with what he saw of Incognito in practice Thursday.
--WR Torry Holt did not practice Thursday, but it was merely a precaution as he recovers from a knee injury. Holt will play Sunday against New Orleans.
--DE Leonard Little was not with the team Thursday, following the murder of his brother Jermaine Monday in Tennessee. Team officials don't know if Little will play Sunday. His brother's funeral is Saturday.
--DE Anthony Hargrove missed practice Thursday after being sent home with the flu.
INSIDE THE CAMPS:
New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin took an opportunity Wednesday to castigate Saints owner Tom Benson, who many believe is laying the groundwork to permanently relocate his team to San Antonio after this season. During the Saints' 34-31 loss to the Atlanta Falcons in the Alamodome, San Antonio Mayor Phil Hardberger told a San Antonio paper that he will talk to Benson about keeping the team in Texas permanently after it moved there in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
Benson told the Express-News that he won't talk about the team's future until after this season, but the outspoken Nagin didn't mind commenting Wednesday during the re-opening of Cafe Du Monde, a French Quarter landmark. "We want our Saints, we may not want the owner back," Nagin said. "I'm ready to go to the NFL and (commissioner Paul) Tagliabue and say, 'Give us the Cleveland plan.' "
Nagin was referring to Cleveland being awarded an expansion team after the Browns left for Baltimore following the 1995 season.
"Whatever the Saints want to do, you let them leave," he said. "But they can't take our logo, they can't take our name, and you give us a promise to give us a franchise when this city's back."
Nagin's comments came after the departure of two of the Saints' top executives on the business side on Monday and Tuesday. Arnold Fielkow, executive vice president for administration, was fired Monday after Benson asked for his resignation. Connie Kowal, the senior director of marketing and business development, resigned Tuesday.
Fielkow was a proponent of returning the Saints to New Orleans to help the city in its recovery.
As the Rams prepare for their home game Sunday against the Saints, they know New Orleans will try to run the ball. The Rams' run defense got off to a good start this season, but then there have problems in the past three games, against the Giants, Seattle and Indianapolis.
Part of that was the Rams knowing those three teams are also good passing teams. Said interim coach Joe Vitt, "We played good run defense in the first three games, but I think that was a little skewed. We were playing a lot of eight-man fronts. We started to go against some good passing attacks, like the Giants, like Seattle.
"Then we've got to come out of those eight-man fronts and play some more Cover-2 and more 'designer' coverages, if you will. Now, you've got to defend it with only seven men. And we've got to do a better job of that - with gap responsibility, gap control." The pass defense was solid against the Colts, not allowing big plays, but the running of Edgerrin James, along with excellent field position for Indianapolis, led to the 45-28 victory.
Noting the pass defense against the Colts, Vitt said, "That was the key going in. We knew we were going to bleed. That's a good (Colts) attack. That's probably as good as you're going to find in the National Football League with their skilled receivers, the running back and the quarterback. So the ability not to give up the big play was huge."
San Francisco 49ers (1-4) at Washington Redskins (3-2)
KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 ET
TV: CBS, Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston, Tony Siragusa
SERIES: 27th meeting. The 49ers lead 16-9-1, but the Redskins have won two of the last three meetings since 1999. Before that, the 49ers had won seven straight over the Redskins.
2005 RANKINGS: 49ers: offense 31st (26th rush, 29th pass); defense 32nd (18th rush, 32nd pass). Redskins: offense 7th (8th rush, 8th pass); defense 5th (14th rush, 7th pass)
KEYS TO THE GAME: The Redskins can expect a good pre-game speech from coach Joe Gibbs, who was upset by stories in the media dubbing this an easy win for his team. Washington should have little trouble moving the ball against San Francisco, whose defense is allowing over 40 more yards per game than the next worst defense in the league and is saddled by a beat up secondary. And the Redskins shouldn't have to score an abundance of points with the 49ers giving rookie QB Alex Smith just his second career start. Redskins defensive coordinator Gregg Williams is one of the best in the league at bringing pressure from all different angles, and San Francisco has to hope Smith can avoid the turnovers that plagued his first start. But to keep the game competitive through four quarters, 49ers RBs Kevan Barlow and Frank Gore must move the chains even though Washington knows San Francisco will come out attempting to establish its ground game.
FAST FACTS: 49ers: Coach Mike Nolan was Washington's defensive coordinator from 1997-99. ... WR Arnaz Battle already has career highs in receptions (15), yards (171) and touchdowns (two). Redskins: QB Mark Brunell has at least two touchdown passes in four consecutive games. ... Gibbs seeks 150th career victory for third consecutive game.
--LB Jim Maxwell, signed to the active roster this week when Jeff Ulbrich was placed on injured reserve, is expected to suit up and might see some action Sunday against the Redskins.
--LB Julian Peterson returned to practice Thursday and is expected to start Sunday against the Redskins. Peterson has missed considerable time since sustaining a right hamstring strain on Sept. 25.
--WR Otis Amey, the team's No. 3 receiver and its punt returner, has a high ankle sprain and did not practice. If he is unable to play, rookie Rasheed Marshall would return punts.
--T Patrick Estes rolled his ankle and missed the last part of practice Thursday. His availability as a backup is not known. Estes is the backup left tackle behind starter Anthony Clement. If Estes is unable to play, rookie Adam Snyder would enter Sunday's game against the Redskins as the No. 2 left tackle.
--RB Frank Gore has impressed the 49ers because of the decisiveness with which he hits the holes. For the season, he has 25 carries for 109 yards, a 4.4-yard average. Starter Kevan Barlow plays about two-thirds of the time with Gore taking the other third of the playing time.
--RB Clinton Portis missed a second straight day with an injured shin but is expected to start Sunday against San Francisco.
--C Casey Rabach missed a second straight day with a sprained ankle but is expected to start on Sunday.
--CB Carlos Rogers returned to practice after missing Wednesday's workout with a sprained ankle and is expected to play on Sunday.
--K John Hall, who pulled a quadriceps on his last kickoff in the Sept. 11 opener against Chicago, could finally be ready to return to action on Sunday. He has split time in practice with his replacement, Nick Novak. The undrafted rookie could be cut if Hall is good to go. Sunday's forecast for cold and rainy weather could be a factor.
--LB LaVar Arrington might see some snaps on defense Sunday for the first time in three weeks. Assistant head coach/defense Gregg Williams said the three-time Pro Bowl pick has practiced well the past two weeks and is looking good physically.
INSIDE THE CAMPS:
The 49ers will get a chance to see Sunday against the Redskins if cornerback Bruce Thornton's starting debut Oct. 9 against the Colts was an aberration. The 49ers played that game with four of their top five cornerbacks out of action. Thornton, who only a week earlier had been on the practice squad, started against one of the most feared passing attacks in the leagues. He put together a spectacular game, holding Colts receiver Marvin Harrison to just two catches for 17 yards. Thornton also had an interception in the end zone.
"I'm anxious to see what he is," 49ers coach Mike Nolan said. "He did a lot of good things in the game. It's one thing when you come up with an interception and there were 12 other plays in the game where coaches give him a lot of minuses. (But) Bruce played a good game. He played a good game, not just a down or a series. We'll see where he goes."
Two of the cornerbacks who were originally ahead of Thornton on the depth chart, Derrick Johnson and Willie Middlebrooks, will return for Sunday's game. Johnson is expected to play as an extra defensive back. It is unsure what, if any, role Middlebrooks would play. Based on his play in his debut, Thornton will get another shot at starting. He will be matched Sunday against Redskins receivers Santana Moss and David Patten, depending on the formation. Thornton will take on the receiver who lines up on the right side of the Redskins' offensive formation.
Thornton was a fourth-round pick of the Cowboys in 2004 and made the team's opening-game roster only to sustain a torn right ACL in his first game. This summer, the Cowboys released Thornton and the 49ers signed him to their practice squad.
"I wanted to be there and I wanted to be with the Cowboys," Thornton said. "But I took the approach that my next destination is where I would try to make my home."
The Washington Redskins got a scare in practice yesterday when red-hot quarterback Mark Brunell mildly strained his left calf. However, coach Joe Gibbs and director of sports medicine Bubba Tyer said that Brunell should start Sunday against San Francisco. "I just tweaked my left calf when I was dropping back," said Brunell, whose 2004 season was ruined when he played with a pulled hamstring. "I don't think it's that big a deal. I'm moving around. It feels like it's not going to be a problem at all. If it was painful, it was tough to move around or I was limping, I'd be concerned. I'd be concerned if it was Saturday, but we have a couple of days."
Mobility is a critical factor for the 35-year-old Brunell, who has had runs of 14, 18 and 25 yards this season. Meanwhile, Joe Salave'a didn't practice for a second straight day with plantar fasciitis. Neither did fellow defensive tackle Cedric Killings because of a high ankle sprain. They were joined by rookie free agent Aki Jones, who was in line to be activated if either Salave'a or Killings isn't ready for Sunday's game with San Francisco. Jones mildly strained a hamstring during Wednesday's practice.
That left starter Cornelius Griffin and second-year backup Ryan Boschetti as the only healthy defensive tackles with just one practice remaining before the game.
"Our guys are interchangeable," assistant head coach/defense Gregg Williams said. "You'll see us throw (starting ends) Phillip Daniels and Renaldo Wynn inside. We've got enough tools, enough packages that we'll get through it. Joe (Salave'a) will practice tomorrow. Two of the three guys might. As long as (Joe gets) a good day's practice in on Friday, he can go. The rest has actually been good for him."
Tennessee Titans (2-4) at Arizona Cardinals (1-4)
KICKOFF: Sunday, 4:15 ET
TV: FOX, Craig Bolerjack, Richard Baldinger
SERIES: 8th meeting, Arizona leads 4-3. As the Tennessee Oilers, the Titans won the last meeting in 1997, 41-14.
2005 RANKINGS: Titans: offense 19th (20th rush, 14th pass); defense 20th (20th rush, 20th pass). Cardinals: offense 3rd (29th rush, 2nd pass); defense 15th (17th rush, 13th pass)
KEYS TO THE GAME: The Titans have had to prepare for Cardinals QBs Kurt Warner and Josh McCown all week because coach Dennis Green said he won't name a starter until Sunday. Either one will have a distinct advantage when throwing downfield to WRs Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald working against the Titans secondary. However, the Cardinals have had trouble controlling the clock with poor offensive line play leading to a meager running attack. Tennessee's offense will attempt to take advantage and control the game by pounding away on the ground, although it needs RB Chris Brown to produce throughout the game and not fade in the second half. Titans QB Steve McNair is minus injured No. 1 WR Drew Bennett, but he has been relying heavily on his talented receiving tight ends, and the Cardinals' lack of depth along the defense line could leave McNair with plenty of time to find open targets downfield.
FAST FACTS: Titans: TEs Erron Kinney, Ben Troupe and Bo Scaife have combined for 62 receptions, 504 yards and four touchdowns in six games. ... Are 18-7 in past 25 interconference games. Cardinals: Boldin and Fitzgerald are the only teammates with at least 35 receptions and 500 receiving yards apiece. ... McCown seeks to join Warner as only NFL players to pass for at least 375 yards in three consecutive games.
--QB Steve McNair did not practice Thursday as he was excused for personal reasons. Coach Jeff Fisher said McNair's lower back, which promoted the team to give him Wednesday off, is improving and he was optimistic McNair would practice Friday. He is likely to start at Arizona.
--WR Drew Bennett is out of the Titans game in Arizona after surgery Monday to repair a dislocated left thumb.
--LB Peter Sirmon (ankle) is probably a game-time decision on Sunday. If he doesn't warm up well, the Titans might be tempted to give him a week off to let his ankle problem settle down rather than risking it becomes a nagging thing for the remainder of the season. Rocky Boiman would start in his place and Robert Reynolds would also probably get some action.
--TE Ben Troupe is the most threatening of the Titans tight ends, and with WR Drew Bennett out with a thumb injury the team could look to line Troupe up wide more often and take some shots on intermediate and longer plays with him.
--FB Troy Fleming (ankle) is doing some running but has not practiced. He will be a game-time decision.
--DT Randy Starks has not practiced this week because of an ankle injury suffered in the loss to Cincinnati. He will likely be a game time decision, and if he can't go the Titans will go with three tackles and four ends, activating DE Bo Schobel.
--RB Marcel Shipp is averaging just 2.9 yards a carry but he'll hang on to his starting job. Shipp has had little room to run, and his backup, rookie J.J. Arrington has been tentative.
--CB Robert Tate will get his second straight start Sunday. Signed just three weeks ago, Tate has played, intercepting two passes and forcing a fumble.
--CB Antrel Rolle remains hopeful of returning for the final month of the season. Rolle underwent surgery two weeks ago to repair meniscus in his knee. The club might have to place him on injured reserve, however, if it has more injury problems.
--DE Calvin Pace is out for the year, which will make it difficult for the team to run its five-lineman defensive scheme. Pace suffered a severe cut in a household accident during the bye week. He was the top backup defensive end and was the fifth linemen in that scheme.
--K Neil Rackers has made 18 straight field goals, including nine of 40 yards or more. He also leads the league with 16 touchbacks.
INSIDE THE CAMPS:
The Titans' unproven pass defense ranks 20th in the NFL and faces another challenging matchup Sunday at Arizona, where receivers Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin key the league's second-ranked passing offense. "It really depends on what you do defensively," coach Jeff Fisher said. "If you're going to line up and bump and run and do those kind of things, then they are going to take advantage of the deep balls. If you force them to do the underneath things, they have the potential to catch and run after.
"They will put it up (deep). It looks like they go into every game with the expectation of putting it up five or six times."
The Titans have also have issues at receiver - Drew Bennett is out after surgery to repair a dislocated left thumb, which means rookie Brandon Jones and ineffective Tyrone Calico - another big receiver - will be expected to make some plays with Steve McNair.
McNair didn't practice Wednesday because of low back problems and was excused on Thursday for personal reasons. He's missed four of the last five practices and is losing valuable time building on-field relationships with wideouts he hasn't thrown to much. "I feel like he has a good feel for what we are doing offensively," Fisher said of McNair. "Timing is there. Where you get concerned is that you've got younger players in the offense compared to a couple years ago where we had guys who knew exactly what to do.
"In a perfect world, you want him on the field practicing as much as you can so there is a comfort level through the practice week with the younger players."
Dennis Green won't name a starting quarterback until shortly before Sunday's game against Tennessee, but it would be surprising if he doesn't stick with Josh McCown.
Green would prefer the Titans to have to prepare for both McCown and Warner, because they have divergent styles.
McCown is athletic and can run. He's helped keep several drives alive with his scrambling ability. Warner isn't mobile but he's a veteran who's seen everything a defense can throw at him. And he played well in his three starts. There's no ignoring, however, that the offense has played better in McCown's two starts. Part of the reason is strategic. The Cardinals have gone to max protection more often, giving McCown more time to throw than Warner had.
And McCown had the advantage of playing against San Francisco, one of the worst teams in the league, while Warner started against the Giants, Rams and Seawhawks, three playoff contenders.
McCown has shown progress since last year. He appears calmer in the pocket and he's making better decisions. He's passed for 383 yards in his two starts, the most prolific consecutive performances by a quarterback in team history.