- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 1, 2006

Bill Parcells knows the end of his career is near, but the Dallas coach isn’t exactly relishing his final days.

“Winning is more of a relief now,” said the 65-year-old Parcells, now in his 19th season as an NFL coach. “In the past I used to enjoy it more. … Losing is probably worse now that I’ve gotten older. It’s harder for me than it’s ever been. People say you get mellower. I don’t believe that. I think it goes the other way.”

Washington coach Joe Gibbs, who could be facing Parcells for the 23rd and final time Sunday, said his reaction to winning and losing hasn’t changed at age 65 and in his 15th season in command.

“For me I think it’s been pretty much the same,” Gibbs said. “If you’re competitive, [losing] is tough to deal with.”

Parcells, a two-time Super Bowl winner, said he has thought about this possibly being the last time he matches wits with three-time champion Gibbs, whom he undoubtedly will join in the Hall of Fame someday. Gibbs said he hadn’t considered that but did say, “Every game, you treat it as something special because you don’t know how many you’ll get.”

Parcells is 29-27 in Dallas (4-3 this season). Gibbs is 19-22 in his second tour in Washington, 2-5 this year.

“This is a humbling game,” Parcells said. “When you get to our age and things don’t go well, you get to hear how the game is passing you by. I’ve been one of the very fortunate people, relatively speaking, in this business. If I lose every game I coach again, I’ll never leave this game with a bitter feeling about the game.”

Portis returns; Moss doesn’t

Running back Clinton Portis, who hadn’t been on the field since spraining his left ankle Oct. 22 at Indianapolis, practiced yesterday and expects to play Sunday. However, receiver Santana Moss, who strained his left hamstring against the Colts, remained sidelined and was pessimistic about his chances of facing the Cowboys.

“It feels good; I went through a whole practice,” said Portis, who missed the Week 2 loss in Dallas with an ailing left shoulder. “I’ll be sore tomorrow, but I’m playing on Sunday.”

The news was considerably less positive for Moss, who became a Redskins star with two late touchdown catches to stun the Cowboys in Dallas in Week 2 last year.

“My spirits are fine. My health, I don’t know how it is,” said Moss, who has a history of hamstring injuries and is officially questionable. “I haven’t done any running yet. It’s one of those things you have to treat, and until it feels good enough to go out and test it, you wait.”

Receiver David Patten, who started opposite Moss last year but has just one catch this season, was limited after straining a hamstring on Monday. Patten was inactive the past three games with a thigh injury. If Moss and Patten are both unavailable for Dallas, veteran James Thrash will be the third receiver behind Brandon Lloyd and Antwaan Randle El.

Quarterback Mark Brunell was feeling good about his return to the field after missing the previous three practices with pulled ribcage muscles. Middle linebacker Lemar Marshall also was back in pads after sitting out the game against the Colts and the subsequent practices with a sprained left ankle.

“It feels better,” Marshall said. “I was pretty much able to do everything.”

Asked whether he was hopeful about playing Sunday, Marshall said, “Use any word you want. I’m playing.”

Cornerback Carlos Rogers will play with a foam rubber-covered, hard, plastic splint on the broken right thumb that kept him out Sunday against the Colts.

Brown the life coach

Gibbs that he didn’t bring in former offensive lineman Ray Brown, who played his 20th and final season in 2005, to help with blocking schemes but to be a sounding board for the team’s younger players.

“Many times they’re still wide-eyed,” Gibbs said. “They’re going to pay a lot of attention to Ray because he played 20 years. He’s gone through thick and thin. He knows how to help you get out of messes. He was here last year when we had tough times, and he was a big part of the leadership.”

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