- The Washington Times - Monday, December 7, 2015

The piece of paper was taped in a corner of the locker room, a not-so-subtle reminder of what the Washington Redskins will be up against when they face the Dallas Cowboys on Monday Night Football.

Cowboys have the BEST offensive line in the NFL … and the best offensive tackle,” the sign read.

For the first-place Redskins, it’s about not overlooking the Cowboys despite their 3-8 record, despite the fact that they are playing without quarterback Tony Romo, whose season came to a merciful end on Thanksgiving when he fractured his left collarbone again.

“They still have a mammoth offensive line,” coach Jay Gruden said. “They still have Jason Witten. You know, they still have [Darren] McFadden, who’s a heck of a back. They have got Dez Bryant still. They’re a very good football team.”

Veteran DeAngelo Hall brought the sign from the meeting room and taped it to the wall in the corner where the defensive backs dress. He did the same thing last week against the New York Giants.

“It’s not about trying to go out and get the respect,” Hall said. “It’s about going out and taking care of business. You know, for us, the coaches that put the one thing up, and I took it from upstairs and brought it down here, and they put another one up this week, so I took it from upstairs and brought it down here. It’s a little friendly reminder to us — to let us know what’s at hand, what we’re going against.”

Washington moved into first in the NFC East with a 20-14 win against the Giants this week. The Redskins got a boost from the Giants again on Sunday when they gave away another fourth-quarter lead and lost to the New York Jets, 23-20, in overtime. Washington can lose to Dallas on Monday night and still be in first place in the dreaded division.

Regardless of how bad the division may be, the Redskins can by no means get complacent and they know it. The focus, like coach Gruden said last week, is not so much on first place as it is on playing their best football.

With that, here’s a look at the logistics and three things to watch on Monday night.

Logistics

Kickoff: 8:30 p.m.

Records: Redskins 5-6, Cowboys 3-8

Television: ESPN (Mike Tirico, play-by-play; Jon Gruden, color; Lisa Salters, sidelines)

Radio: ESPN 980 (Larry Michael, Sonny Jurgensen, Chris Cooley, Doc Walker)

Weather: 40s and cloudy

Lines: Redskins -4, over/under 42 per Bovada

Projected Starters:

Redskins offense: QB Kirk Cousins, RB Alfred Morris, WR Pierre Garcon, WR DeSean Jackson, WR Jamison Crowder, TE Jordan Reed, LT Trent Williams, LG Spencer Long, C Josh LeRibeus, RG Brandon Scherff, RT Morgan Moses.

Redskins defense: DE Chris Baker, NT Terrance Knighton, DE Jason Hatcher, OLB Trent Murphy, ILB Will Compton, ILB Mason Foster, OLB Ryan Kerrigan, CB Will Blackmon, CB Bashaud Breeland, SS DeAngelo Hall, FS Dashon Goldson.

Cowboys offense: QB Matt Cassel, RB Darren McFadden, FB Tyler Clutts, WR Dez Bryant, WR Lucky Whitehead, TE Jason Witten, LT Tyron Smith, LG La’el Collins, C Travis Frederick, RG Zack Martin, RT Doug Free.

Cowboys defense: DE DeMarcus Lawrence, DT Nick Hayden, DT Tyrone Crawford, DE Greg Hardy, SLB Anthony Hitchens, MLB Rolando McClain, WLB Sean Lee, CB Brandon Carr, CB Byron Jones, SS Barry Church, FS J.J. Wilcox.

Injury report:

Redskins: Out: ILB Perry Riley (foot); Questionable — ILB Keenan Robinson (shoulder), TE Derek Carrier (ankle), CB Deshazor Everett (hamstring), CB Quinton Dunbar (finger), WR Andre Roberts (knee); Probable — DE Chris Baker (illness), CB Will Blackmon (shoulder/hip), CB DeAngelo Hall (toe), DE Jason Hatcher (knee), WR DeSean Jackson (illness), OLB Ryan Kerrigan (hand), C Josh LeRibeus (nkle/shoulder), FS Dashon Goldson (wrist/hamstring/knee), NT Terrance Knighton (headache).

Cowboys: Out — QB Tony Romo (left shoulder); Questionable — S Jeff Heath (shoulder); Probable — WR Dez Bryant (foot/knee), CB Morris Claiborne (hamstring/ankle).

Stats:

All-time record: The Redskins are 43-65-2 against the Cowboys.

Last regular-season meeting: Dec. 28, 2014: 44-17 loss at FedEx Field.

Three things to watch:

** The Cowboys have two All-Pro linemen in left tackle Tyron Smith and right guard Zack Martin. Center Travis Frederick was named to the Pro Bowl last season as well. Add in rookie left guard La’el Collins and nine-year veteran right tackle Doug Free and the Redskins‘ defensive front has its work cut out. Outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan had two sacks last week against the Giants and defensive end Chris Baker had one, but it will be more difficult to get to Matt Cassel this week. Veteran Jason Hatcher was his usual disruptive self, which the Redskins will need more of against Dallas. Winning this matchup and rivaling Dallas’ physicality, according to Gruden, will be the toughest challenge, but Hatcher and the Redskins are looking forward to it. “We’re expecting a dogfight,” Hatcher said.

** The Redskins will face another middle of the pack run defense, but can they take advantage of it? The Cowboys are allowing 106.9 yards per game. Last week’s win against the Giants proved that the running attack no longer has to be great, but that it just has to be efficient. In a season in which Washington ranks fifth-worst in rushing offense, perhaps that’s easier said than done. However, the Redskins aren’t expecting to gain the 6.9 yards per carry they averaged against New Orleans, but a tick better than the 2.8 they gained against the Giants will help open up the offense. In six games against the Cowboys, Alfred Morris has rushed for 598 yards and seven touchdowns, his most against any team.

** The sign in the Redskins‘ locker room might read that the Cowboys have the best left tackle in the NFL, but Washington has a pretty good one itself in Trent Williams. Quarterback Kirk Cousins was not sacked last week — and barely hit — and it will be just as important to do the same on Monday. He’ll likely see plenty of defensive end Greg Hardy, who has 4.5 sacks in seven games this season. It’ll be interesting to see how many times Hardy rushes Williams directly and how many times he stunts inside. Either way, it will be fun to watch and William’s athleticism should help him in this matchup.

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