The text message rolled in on Stephen Bowen's phone Wednesday, words that cut through the gloom of an overcast morning at Redskins Park.
His infant son, Stephen III, weighs 6 pounds, 5 ounces, the text said. And, if all goes as planned, he'll leave a Northern Virginia hospital Friday.
"To see him fighting," Bowen said, "it was a long road."
Stephen III was born three months early June 28. He's been hospitalized since. His twin brother, Skyler, died 10 days after birth. When Bowen left his old home in Dallas for training camp with Washington, Stephen III weighed around 2 pounds. The change has been dramatic.
"There's nothing like seeing him in person," Bowen said. "It's a totally different thing."
After each practice, Bowen picks up his daughter from school, then heads to the hospital. That's his routine. He tries to get enough sleep, even with the added commitments. Anything else, he feels, would be selfish. He doesn't want to let down his teammates.
But even facing the Dallas Cowboys — his former team — on Monday, Bowen's thoughts aren't far from the room at home prepared for Stephen III. Painting the walls is the only thing left undone. Then Stephen III will be home.
"It's just about having great days in a row," Bowen said.
Insult to injury?
Cornerback DeAngelo Hall is aware of the Cowboys' extensive injuries entering Monday night's game, and he plans to add to their pain. Quarterback Tony Romo's fractured rib and punctured lung are at the top of his list.
"I want to get a chance to put my helmet on whatever is hurting, Romo's ribs," Hall said. "I'm gonna be asking for some corner blitzes. If I know [running back] Felix Jones' shoulder is hurt, I'm not gonna cut him. I'm going to definitely try to hit him up high.
The Cowboys are expected to be without receiver Miles Austin (hamstring). Receiver Dez Bryant (quad) missed last week's game and might play.
"That's just part of it," Hall said. "If you know something is wrong with an opponent, you're gonna try to target in on that. We're going to try to definitely get as many hats on all those guys as possible."
Landry yearns for return
Strong safety LaRon Landry is pining to play against Dallas and end a nine-game absence that dates from last November. He's optimistic that his strained hamstring will be healthy enough.
All the missed game time has produced a combustible amount of eagerness. Landry seems ready to run through a wall. Just don't suggest he might need to restrain his excitement once he gets back into a game.
"Calm down? Don't calm me down," he said. "Let me go. Untame this beast, man."
He hasn't tested his hamstring at full speed in more than two weeks, when he aggravated the strain. He plans to try again Friday or Saturday.
He was limited in Wednesday's practice. Afterward, he said the workout went "great."
Landry's teammates are just as eager to have him back.
"It just adds another playmaker," linebacker Brian Orakpo said. "It's like ketchup on a burger."
Aware of Ware
DeMarcus Ware, the Cowboys' outside linebacker, is on the minds of the Redskins. They hope he doesn't spend much, if any, of Monday's game in their backfield.
"He's one of the best in the league," quarterback Rex Grossman said. "There's no doubt about it."
Already with an NFL-high four sacks this season to up his career total to 84, Ware brings the season's stiffest test thus far for the Redskins' offensive line. Grossman knows he can't get too deep in the pocket and needs to release the ball quickly.
Bowen was close with Ware in Dallas. They stay in touch, though Bowen is cutting off contact leading up to the game.
The scouting report on Bowen's old friend?
"He studies a lot of film. He tries to find out the weaknesses of the person he's going against," Bowen said. "He's naturally fast and strong. When I was there, he was pound-for-pound the strongest person on the team. You never know what you're going to get, if he's going to beat you around the corner or he's going to try to power through."
Short and sweet
One television reporter asked rookie running back Roy Helu, a California native, a long question about his awareness of the rivalry with the Cowboys, the tradition encompassed in the game and if teammates were educating him about it.
Helu's one-word response: "No."
Rich Campbell contributed to this report
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