- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 25, 2011

1. How effective will injured Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo be?Romo practiced on Saturday despite suffering a fractured rib and punctured lung only six days earlier. If he plays through the pain, the Redskins must test his mobility and challenge him to make awkward, uncomfortable throws. They have to put him on the ground every chance they get and make the injury become a distraction. Romo was fitted for a protective vest that contains Kevlar, which is used in bulletproof vests.

2. Can the Redskins’ offensive line sufficiently protect quarterback Rex Grossman? It did much better last week against an Arizona defense that backed off the blitz and frequently rushed only four. Coaches attributed the improvement to better physical execution of individual blocks. The line will be severely tested by some dynamic rushers, including outside linebackers DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer and nose tackle Jay Ratliff. Communication and proper technique are imperative.

3. Can the Redskins’ defense slow Dallas tight end Jason Witten? With top receiver Miles Austin (hamstring) out and Dez Bryant questionable with a thigh injury, Witten is the Cowboys’ biggest weapon at full strength. He had 10 catches for 140 yards and a touchdown against the Redskins last December. Strong safety LaRon Landry didn’t play in that game. He would be Washington’s best matchup for Witten, but he is questionable (hamstring) and hasn’t fully participated in a practice since last November.

4. Will Washington continue to run the ball effectively? Running backs Tim Hightower and Roy Helu combined for 170 yards against Arizona last week, averaging 5.7 yards per carry. The offensive line consistently opened running lanes, which it failed to do against New York in Week 1. Dallas runs a 3-4 front, as Arizona does, and some Redskins linemen believe the outside zone scheme is more effective against a three-man line. Winning individual blocks is the key.

5. Will the Redskins’ offense convert red zone trips into touchdowns? The Redskins scored only two touchdowns on seven drives inside the 20-yard line against Arizona. The Cardinals dropped seven into coverage and, in that compressed space, took away Rex Grossman’s open receivers. Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan must find some play designs that get receivers open against a seven-man coverage. Running the ball well down there would help.

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