What a difference six weeks makes. After the Cowboys’ 18-16 victory over the Redskins on Sept. 26, the Cowboys accused their former teammate, Stephen Bowen, of simulating the snap count, and the Redskins defensive end called Cowboys center Phil Costa a liar.
Bowen said Wednesday that Costa called him afterward and all has been forgiven.
“After that whole thing, Phil called me, and we talked, and it’s no big thing,” Bowen said on a conference call. “We’ve moved past that, and it’s all good.”
Costa had four premature snaps in the game. The Cowboys blamed the Redskins for simulating the snap count, which is illegal, and Bowen was a suspect because of the five seasons he spent in Dallas.
Washington was not called for a penalty, but the NFL did send out a memo a few days later reminding teams that simulating a snap count is a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.
“I have no idea, no idea [what Costa heard],” Bowen said. “I know that us guys up front, we weren’t saying anything. If I would have heard it, it probably would have made me jump. I know I had nothing to do with what he was hearing.”
Bowen initially was upset that his character was called into question. He said then that he had “lost a lot of respect for Costa.” But Bowen said Wednesday that the two made up in their phone conversation.
“That kind of caught me off guard,” Bowen said. “He called me and we talked. …I’m not going to talk about the details of conversation, but he’s a good player, and I respect him.”
Running back Felix Jones returned to practice Wednesday. Though he was limited, he is expected to play Sunday. How much remains to be seen.
In the four games Jones has been out rehabbing a high left ankle sprain, DeMarco Murray has rushed for 601 yards. Murray averaged 21.5 touches in those four games.
“We certainly like Felix Jones,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said Wednesday. “He’s been a very strong contributor to our football team the last few years both running the football and also as a pass receiver, so we want to get him back involved in it. We certainly want to continue to hand the ball to DeMarco Murray and also throw it to him. He’s been a big factor in some of our success on offense in recent weeks. So we want to make sure he continues to get his opportunities, and we’ll continue to get Felix back in the flow of things on offense assuming his ankle gets better and better as the week goes on.”
Murray has averaged 6.7 yards a rush. Jones has averaged 4.0. But Jones has yet to have both left guard Montrae Holland and fullback Tony Fiammetta as blockers. Holland and Fiammetta have played a part in the emergence of the Cowboys’ running game.
Jones is expected to be the third-down back and spell Murray, which is what he has done much of his college and pro career. He split carries with Darren McFadden and Peyton Hillis at Arkansas and shared the load with Marion Barber and Tashard Choice in his first three seasons in Dallas.
“I think that’s the way a lot of backs are working as they come out of school,” Garrett said. “I think he’s comfortable doing that. It’s not like he’s a guy who needs 25 carries to get that sweat going. He can go in there and catch the ball out of the backfield, run the football, play on third downs. He seems to have a comfort level doing that. So we’ll try to get him back out there and get him some touches and get him going again.”
Garrett said the Cowboys have talked about using Jones as a kick returner again. He did not return any kicks last season, but has had 46 returns in his career for a 24.2 average and one touchdown.
“We’ve certainly thought about that, but again we just want to get him healthy and then hopefully get him back going on offense,” Garrett said. “We’ll make those other decisions as it goes.”
Tashard Choice is expected to make his Redskins’ debut Sunday against his old team. Washington, which ranks 31st in rushing and has lost Tim Hightower to a season-ending injury, can use the help.
“I think he’s doing a good job. He’s healthy now,” Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan said in a conference call with reporters at Valley Ranch. “He got a chance to get a good feel for our system, and he’ll get to practice really for the first full time this week.”
The Redskins claimed Choice off waivers from the Cowboys on Oct. 31. He was waived with a hamstring injury and has been rehabbing since.
Choice has 1,139 yards and eight touchdowns on 250 career carries since the Cowboys made him a fourth-round pick in 2008. The Cowboys can’t wait to welcome him to his new team.
“It’ll be funny,” Cowboys defensive end Marcus Spears said. “We can’t wait to see him. We’re going to try to smack him.
“I’m glad he got an opportunity to get on with somebody and continue his career. I’m proud of him. He’s like a little brother to me, so it’ll be fun to see him. But he knows in between the clock it’s football. He knows we’ll be trying to hit him, and he’ll be trying to get away.”