Here are 15 things to know about Sunday night’s Philadelphia Eagles – Dallas Cowboys matchup:
1. The Eagles are going to have their hands full with Diamond Dez Bryant. The second-year receiver has 19 catches for 339 yards in five games. He’s averaging 17.8 yards per catch and has scored four times. Bryant has six catches of 25+ yards, tied for seventh-most in the NFL, according to STATS.com. And that doesn’t mean it’s just Tony Romo taking shots deep down the field with Bryant. Yards after the catch are a big part of the equation. Bryant is tough to bring down, and if the Eagles’ defensive backs don’t tackle, Bryant will pile up the YAC. Bryant caught one ball against the Rams at the St. Louis 37. Quintin Mikell met him 6 yards later, but couldn’t bring him down. Bryant broke the tackle and scampered all the way to the 21 for a 34-yard gain, which included 16 yards after the catch. The previous week, against the Patriots, he turned a 5-yard catch into a 33-yard gain, juking two New England defensive backs to the ground.
Emmitt Smith: Had some of the best rushing days in Dallas Cowboys history against the Philadelphia Eagles. But he wasn’t the only Dallas player to post impressive numbers against the NFC East rivals. Here are 10 great performances by Dallas Cowboys against Philadelphia. Photo: LOUIS DeLUCA / DMN | The Boys Are Back
Running back Emmitt Smith, Oct. 31, 1993: Smith rushed for a 62-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter to put away the Eagles and become the second Dallas Cowboys player to rush for more than 200 yards in a game. He carried the ball 30 times for 237 yards in a key 23-10 NFC East win en route to a second consecutive NFL title. Photo: AP Photo/Amy Sancetta | The Boys Are Back
INDIANAPOLIS — The NCAA Division I Board of Directors approved a sweeping reform package Thursday that allows conferences to add more money and multiple years to scholarship offers, toughens academic recruiting standards and changes the summer basketball recruiting model.
Thursday’s NCAA Rules Reform Package
• Conferences can vote to add $2,000 in “full cost-of-attendance” money to scholarship offers.
• Individual schools can choose to award multiyear scholarships. Scholarships may not be revoked based on athletic performance.
• Schools that fail to meet the Academic Progress Rate cutline will be ineligible for postseason play, including bowl games. The cutline will be increased from the current 900 to 930 in four years.
• Eligibility requirements increased from a 2.0 GPA to 2.3 for incoming freshman and 2.5 for junior college transfers.
• For basketball recruiting, coaches added four evaluation days in April, previously a dead period, but went from 20 days to 12 in July. Coaches can make unlimited calls or send unlimited texts to prep recruits after June 15 at end of their sophomore year.
It was one of the busiest board meetings in history, and it was all by design.
Tony Romo says he’ll likely continue to wear protective vest and take pain-killing injection for Sunday night’s game
Romo said after last week’s win over the St. Louis Rams that he didn’t think he’d need any more shots to treat the pain from his fractured rib. But Romo, who fractured the rib during a Week 2 win over the San Francisco 49ers, said Thursday that he does anticipate getting a shot before Sunday night’s game against the Philadelphia Eagles.
“It looks like this week we might do all the same stuff as last week,” Romo said, referring to taking a shot and wearing a protective vest. “It looks that way. We’ll see after this week.”
Romo hasn’t suffered any setbacks in his recovery from the fractured rib. He took the least punishment he has all season during Sunday’s rout of the Rams, when rookie running back DeMarco Murray rushed for a franchise-record 253 yards and Romo attempted a season-low 24 passes.
The pain in Romo’s rib cage has steadily decreased, and his ability to move has improved.
“It feels better in the day-to-day stuff,” Romo said. “I just think now it’s just a matter of the shot on game day and the things like that are what we really talk about. Everything else, day-to-day, feels normal.”
“We were going to have it on standby in case, and you just run different tests to see what you can and can’t handle or what you can and can’t do,” Romo said. “There’s no exact what we’re going to do right now. We’re going to determine that on Sunday. We’ll talk about it and do a couple of tests that we have been doing to determine it.”
This question was posed to the five ESPN-Dallas/Ft. Worth Dallas Cowboy correspondents. Please read their answers and participate in the The Boys Are Back reader poll below.
Will DeMarco Murray gain 100 yards against Philadelphia’ 23rd-ranked run defense?
Jean-Jacques Taylor: Murray will break some long ones
No one in his right mind expects DeMarco Murray to have another 200-yard performance this week, but the Eagles give up so many big plays on the ground that he should eclipse 100 yards.
We’re talking about the 23rd-ranked run defense that’s allowing 4.8 yards per carry. More important, the Eagles have yielded 23 runs of 10 yards or more in just six games.
Trust me, that’s hard to do.
They’ve also yielded six runs of 20 yards or more.
The one thing Murray proved he could do in his record-setting performance against the hapless Rams and their raggedy run defense is make the big play. He had two runs of 19 yards, a 43-yarder and, of course, the 91-yard sprint to the end zone that set up his 253-yard performance.
On his 91-yard run, Murray flashed his speed and vision. Once he burst in to the secondary, he made a nifty cut on the safety and he was gone.
On the 43-yard fourth-quarter run that allowed him to break Emmitt Smith’s franchise rushing record, he ran over a defender at the line of scrimmage and zoomed into the secondary instead of being dropped for no gain.
That versatility should serve him well Sunday against the Eagles.
IRVING — So how do the Cowboys simulate Eagles quarterback Michael Vick in practice?
How about wide receiver Dez Bryant?
The Cowboys receiver is a lefty, has a strong arm and is fast, much like Vick.
“He gave us a good look,” outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware said. Added Ware who laughed, “he was fast. I was in front of him and I made the tackle.”
Bryant had a little scare during a punt drill on Wednesday morning when he nicked his right foot, but it didn’t bother him as evident with him running around on offense to give the Cowboys defenders a good look.
In the last three seasons, Vick has rushed for 1,143 yards, more than any other quarterback. During the same time span, he’s scored 11 rushing touchdowns, tied with Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers. Vick is able to keep plays alive with his legs, and that’s something Bryant did during practice when under duress.
“There’s nobody who runs like him,” linebacker Sean Lee said of Vick. “He’s one of the best quarterbacks but he’s also one of the best running backs in the league with how he moves and how fast he is, and especially when things break open. It’s like a punt return every time with the way he’s able to shake people. We had Dez at practice to show is some of those looks with what it’s like with a guy with that agility.”
IRVING — Outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware said the Cowboys are in for a big challenge Sunday night in trying to bring down Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick.
Ware said he won’t change the way he plays because of the way Vick is able to escape pressure and turn nothing into big gains because of his speed and athleticism.
“You’ve got to have some spy guys on him in some type of way,” Ware said. “He’s not a statue that is going to sit back there. I’ve got to have my running shoes on. I can catch him and take him down, but if he gets a couple of steps in front of me, no one is going to catch him.
“He’s probably one of the fastest, most athletic guys on the field and you’ve got to find some way to stop him. Corral the rabbit. He can run, man. He strings plays out and keeps their offense going.”
IRVING — In speaking to Cedar Hill High School students Tuesday, Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo said publicly for the first time that his wife, Candice Crawford, is pregnant with the couple’s first child.
Romo was asked Thursday by local media about how he feels about becoming a father soon.
“I’m excited,” Romo said.
Cowboys tight end Jason Witten, his best friend on the team, said he’s excited for Romo.
“He married a great girl. This is a big part of his life,” Witten said. “Obviously I was excited when I got the word. He’ll do a great job at it.”
So, does Witten have any pointers for Romo?
“He’ll figure it out,” Witten said. “He’ll figure it out real quick.”
ESPN – NO LOVE FOR DALLAS: Eagles will beat Cowboys, ‘heat is going to be too much for little Romeo’
With the Cowboys traveling to Philadelphia for a Sunday night rivalry game with the Eagles, the outcome of the contest was one of the topics on a recent segment of ESPN’s “First Take.”
Former Dallas Morning News columnist Skip Bayless and former Cowboys defensive back Darren Woodson were joined by ESPN columnist Stephen A. Smith.
Woodson said the Cowboys would win and Bayless, who predicted a narrow victory for the Eagles, noted that the Cowboys were the best team in the NFC East.
However, Smith saw things differently.
The former Philadelphia Inquirer columnist not only picked the Eagles but added that Tony Romo would shrink under the pressure of a big game.
“They’re not beating the Eagles Sunday night,” Smith said of the Cowboys. “It’s not happening. It’s not happening. I think the win over the Washington Redskins really got the Eagles out of their doldrums. I really believe that they’ll be up and hype for this game, considering the way they stunk up the joint when they were last at Lincoln Financial Field. I think the Philadelphia Eagles are going to show up Sunday night against their heated rival and arch nemesis, and they’re going to be ready to roll. And I think that kind of heat is going to be too much for little Romeo. That’s what I think.”
When the discussion turned to head coaching, Bayless pointed out that Philadelphia’s Andy Reid is 12-0 following a bye week.
Smith chimed in by adding: “I believe in Andy Reid before I believe in Jason Garrett.”
The official injury report was the same as Wednesday with one addition. Punter Mat McBriar was added with a left foot injury. But he was a full participant in practice.
Running back Tashard Choice (shoulder), guard Derrick Dockery (knee), defensive end Jason Hatcher (calf) and guard Kyle Kosier (foot) were limited in practice.
Running back Felix Jones missed practice with a high-ankle sprain. He will miss his second consecutive game and could be out longer.
Punter Works Out With McBriar Banged Up
Punter Mat McBriar had full participation for Thursday’s practice but apparently has a left foot injury that not only was serious enough to list him on the injury report, but the Cowboys are at least looking into contingency plans.
The club worked out rookie punter Chris Jones, who spent all of training camp with the team before being released on Sept. 3, following the preseason.
Jones, an undrafted rookie from Carson Newman, led the team with eight punts in the preseason games, although with just a 37.0 yard average and a net average of just 33.1.
So far this season, McBriar ranks sixth in the NFL with a 49.8 yard average, with a long of 68 yards.
Obviously, the injury is on McBriar’s left plant foot, which still has a major effect on his kicks.
McBriar is also the holder for field goals and no backup is listed on the official depth chart, however Tony Romo has the most experience among any players on the roster.
Jones Misses Another Practice; Likely Out
It’s starting to look more and more as if rookie DeMarco Murray will make his starting debut Sunday night on the big stage against the Eagles.
Starter Felix Jones missed another practice Thursday at Cowboys Stadium because of a high-ankle sprain, although he was able to get some conditioning work done with a strength coach. However, Murray is primed to start, not only because of his 253-yard record-breaking performance last Sunday, but the fact Tashard Choice is banged up with a shoulder injury as well.
Choice was limited on Wednesday but was participating more during Thursday’s practice.
Jones suffered the ankle injury against New England on Oct. 16 and didn’t play the entire second half.
Jones is the only player on the 53-man roster not at practice Thursday, although players such as Choice, Kyle Kosier, Derrick Dockery and Barry Church have been limited this week. Defensive end Jason Hatcher is at full participation after missing five weeks with a strained calf injury.
Dez OK after getting up slow in punt return drill
Dez Bryant did something to his right foot late during special teams drills Thursday. He took off his shoe, looked at his foot, then got up and indicated to trainers he was OK. He appeared to be running fine during the portion of practice open to the media.
Running back Felix Jones was the only player not practicing. He was on the bench in street clothes. Jones is out of the boot he had been wearing to protect his left ankle. The high ankle sprain will keep him out another game and possibly a couple more.
The Cowboys moved practice to Cowboys Stadium for the third time this season, because of the threat of rain. Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan attempted two field goals during stretching drills, much to the delight of the players. He missed both.
Cowboys move practice to Cowboys Stadium today
The Cowboys have moved their practice indoors today because of the weather and will workout at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington instead of Valley Ranch in Irving. Dallas is preparing for its game Sunday night at Philadelphia.
On Wednesday, the only player who didn’t participate at all in practice was starting running back Felix Jones. He won’t play against the Eagles because of a left high ankle sprain he suffered at New England.
The Cowboys’ practice begins at 11:45 a.m., but it’s not open to the public. However, if you purchase a tour of the stadium you can view a part of practice.