Redskins-Cowboys Game Preview: What You Need to Know

Week 2: Redskins (0-1) vs. Cowboys (0-1)

When: 1 p.m.
Where: FedEx Field
TV: FOX – Kevin Burkhardt (play-by-play), John Lynch (analyst), Pam Oliver (sideline reporter).

Line: Washington (-2.5)

Kickoff weather: 85 degrees, partly cloudy.

Storylines
Neither team wants to dig itself an early hole after a Week 1 loss. That’s especially crucial for the Redskins to avoid given their backloaded schedule (featuring 2015 playoff teams (Minnesota, Green Bay, Arizona, Carolina). And that they started with two home games. Eight of the final 14 games are away from FedEx Field.

The laundry list of issues coming out of the Pittsburgh game has to be a concern. There were an astounding five false starts called on three different offensive linemen and running back Matt Jones. Washington struggled in the red zone. The Steelers ran all over them the final three quarters. And their No. 2 cornerback (Bashaud Breeland) couldn’t handle one of the game’s best wide receivers (Antonio Brown – two touchdowns).

Dallas is doing its best with rookie quarterback Dax Prescott while Tony Romo recuperates from his preseason back injury. He wasn’t perfect against the Giants in his NFL debut, but Prescott more than held his own. He has a big arm, if inaccurate at times, and can move outside the pocket. Dallas is putting him in position to succeed and its strong offensive line helps a ton there.

Health Report

Redskins: A relatively injury-free start to the season wasn’t going to last long. The Redskins have already declared defensive end Kendall Reyes (groin) and inside linebacker Martrell Spaight (concussion) OUT for Sunday’s game.

Reyes played 18 defensive snaps in the opener. Spaight didn’t play any, but he was in on 60 percent of the special-teams snaps. Both are reserves. Keep an eye on left tackle Trent Williams (left glute), inside linebacker Su’a Cravens (hip), wide receiver Josh Doctson (left Achilles) and defensive end Chris Baker (rib elbow). All expect to play. Williams would need to be taken out with an elephant tranquilizer to miss with a butt injury. Baker, Doctson and Cravens were full participants in Friday’s practice.

Cowboys: Dallas has three players listed as OUT: Inside linebacker Mark Nzeocha (Achilles tendon), quarterback Tony Romo (back) and defensive end Charles Tapper (back).

Obviously, Romo is the big fish there. He remains on the roster, though, as the Cowboys hope he can return by midseason. “Hope” is the operative word there. For now they need to tread water and at least stay in the NFC East race. Hard to do if you start 0-2.

The other four players listed as questionable for this game: Defensive end Jack Crawford (shoulder), offensive guard Ronald Leary (groin), cornerback Orlando Scandrick (hamstring) and tight end Geoff Swaim (ankle) all participated fully in Friday’s practice.

Keep an eye on Scandrick, though. Dallas’ secondary isn’t exactly loaded and he had to leave the game against New York last week for a time. He didn’t practice Thursday and this is a lingering issue. Not deal against Washington’s passing attack.

Matchup to Watch: Redskins OLB Preston Smith vs. Cowboys LT Tyron Smith
Preston Smith had a lot of “almosts” last week against Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. But he never did quite get home to finish a sack. The challenge doesn’t get any easier this week. Not only can rookie QB Dak Prescott move pretty well, but Smith will have to get past Tyron Smith, one of the game’s best left tackles. But Washington needs to generate and sustain pressure against Dallas. It can’t all come from Ryan Kerrigan. Preston Smith needs a big game.

 

Follow Redskins reporter Brian McNally on Twitter.

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