NFC East: Allen Rossum
Spurlock admits it is kind of funny that his first game will be against the Redskins.
“It was just one of those situations where it wasn’t a fit there,” Spurlock said. “It became a fit here. You move on. There’s no hard feelings at all. Just go play, and we’re trying to get a win.”
The Cowboys hope Spurlock can spark the return game that has dried up with Dwayne Harris slowed by a hamstring injury. Terrance Williams has handled the kickoff duties in Harris’ absence, but he might not play Sunday because of a hamstring injury. Cole Beasley has handled the punt returns.
In nine games for the Lions, Spurlock averaged 22.5 yards per kick return and 6.6 yards per punt return. For his career he has three kickoff returns for touchdowns, and two punt returns for touchdowns.
The Cowboys have made a late-season play for a returner before. In 2003, they signed Michael Bates in time for the regular-season finale. In the playoff loss to the Carolina Panthers he had seven kick returns for 172 yards, with a long of 41 yards.
In 2009, the Cowboys signed Allen Rossum to return kicks and punts, but he was hurt on his first return against Atlanta. The man he was supposed to replace, Patrick Crayton, had a clinching 73-yard punt return for a touchdown in the win against the Falcons.
The Cowboys are the third team Spurlock and Bisaccia have worked with together. They were together in San Diego as well.
“I’ve been around him a long time,” Spurlock said. “Shoot, out of eight years maybe six years I’ve been around him. Some stuff has changed, but after looking at the pictures and stuff, it’s pretty much the same stuff with different names. But I’m familiar with it.”
Now let's update you on players from the NFC East who are at least in the top five at their respective positions:
Quarterbacks: 5. Donovan McNabb, Eagles: He's trailing Kurt Warner by about 60,000 votes. And Drew Brees and Brett Favre are in a tight race for the top spot.
Wide receivers: 2. DeSean Jackson, Eagles; 3. Miles Austin, Cowboys: Jackson has 377,807 votes but he's not going to catch Larry Fitzgerald. But it does look like he'll start for the NFC in the Pro Bowl unless Austin can make up about 39,000 votes on him. Of course, let's remember that the fan voting is only one-third of the process.
Tight ends: 4. Jason Witten, Cowboys: He has 243,220 votes and he'll get a strong push from the coaches and players. Right now he trails Tony Gonzalez, Jeremy Shockey and Vernon Davis. Shockey's had a nice season but he doesn't deserve to go in front of Witten. Eagles fans need to go online immediately and help out Celek. His numbers are off the charts this season.
Centers: 3. Shaun O'Hara, Giants; 4. Andre Gurode, Cowboys: With 204,300 votes, O'Hara is well behind Jonathan Goodwin from the Saints. John Sullivan of the Vikings is in first place.
Offensive tackles: 4. Flozell Adams, Cowboys: The players and coaches will give him a decent push but I don't think he'll make it this season. The Vikings' two tackles, Bryant McKinnie and Phil Loadholt are in the lead.
Guards: 5. Chris Snee, Giants: Even in a down season for the Giants, Snee has played pretty well. He should at least be two or three.
Fullbacks: 2. Leonard Weaver, Eagles; 3. Deon Anderson, Cowboys; 5. Madison Hedgecock, Giants. Weaver has brought another dimension to the Eagles' offense with his running ability. Anderson's a pretty good point of attack guy. Looks like Weaver has a lot of catching up to do on Naufahu Tahi of the Vikings.
Strong safety: 5. Gerald Sensabaugh, Cowboys: Pretty impressive in first half of season. Has played through a hand injury.
Cornerback: 1. Asante Samuel, Eagles: Close race between Samuel and the Packers' Charles Woodson. I expect Woodson to edge out Samuel once the coaches and players vote. But these will be your two starters. I thought Mike Jenkins or Sheldon Brown could've cracked the top five.
Defensive end: 3. Osi Umenyiora, Giants; 4. Justin Tuck, Giants: I like both of those players, but this is when you know it's about popularity. It's ridiculous that Trent Cole's not among the top five. And Andre Carter of the Redskins should be in there, too.
Defensive tackles: 3. Albert Haynesworth, Redskins: He's been pretty effective when he's actually in uniform. Absolutely ridiculous that Jay Ratliff's not on this list. The coaches and players will take care of him.
Free safeties: 5. Ken Hamlin, Cowboys: This is based on past accomplishments because Hamlin hasn't been a factor this season.
Inside linebackers: 4. Keith Brooking, Cowboys; 5. London Fletcher, Redskins: This is bound to upset Redskins fans. The guy's had another great season but the Susan Lucci of NFL linebackers could remain on the outside looking in. Even Lucci broke through at some point. Brooking's had an excellent season and deserves to be in the mix.
Kick returners: 2. DeSean Jackson, Eagles; 5. Allen Rossum, Cowboys: He's trailing Percy Harvin. I think Jackson is by far the best punt returner but the Pro Bowl voting doesn't draw a distinction between the two return jobs. Rossum had one return and pulled up lame on that one before eventually being released.
Outside linebackers: 1. DeMarcus Ware, Cowboys: Leads all outside linebackers with nearly 341,000 votes. I wouldn't mind seeing Brian Orakpo of the Redskins in the top five. Lance Briggs and Clay Matthews were Nos. 4 and 5.
Kickers: 2. David Akers, Eagles; 4. Nick Folk, Cowboys: Akers totally deserves it. Folk's fortunate to still be employed at this point in the season. Akers will have a lot of ground to make up on the Vikings' Ryan Longwell.
Punters: 2. Jeff Feagles, Giants; 4. Mat McBriar, Cowboys: McBriar's quietly having a huge season. Hopefully the coaches and players will recognize that.
Special teamers: 2. Sam Hurd, Cowboys; 5. Chase Blackburn, Giants: Hurd's overtaken Pat Watkins as the Cowboys' top special teams player this season. Blackburn's a solid special teams guy but I think Bryan Kehl has actually been better than him.
During his first and only kickoff return with the Cowboys, the 34-year-old Rossum injured his hamstring and never made it back to the field. Cowboys running back Felix Jones handled the kick-return duties Sunday against the Redskins, although one local report had suggested that Jones would no longer return kicks.
Jones averaged 22 yards on three returns against the Skins on Sunday. His longest was 32.
The thought is that Haynesworth is so disruptive that he would force Romo to constantly leave the pocket. But that's about the only positive news I can offer Redskins fans right now.
In other news, Fred Smoot will start in place of Carlos Rogers at cornerback for the Redskins. Rogers was pulled for a series last week against the Broncos and he was pretty vocal about it.
Here are the other inactives:
Cowboys: QB Stephen McGee (emergency), S Ken Hamlin, CB Allen Rossum, LB Jason Williams, G Montrae Holland, C/G Duke Preston, T Marc Colombo, LB Curtis Johnson
Redskins: CB Kevin Barnes, RB Clinton Portis, FB Eddie Williams, TE Chris Cooley, LB Robert Henson, T Mike Williams, DT Albert Haynesworth, DE Renaldo Wynn
PHILADELPHIA -- Eagles running back Brian Westbrook (concussion) is officially inactive for tonight's game against the Cowboys. ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that Westbrook would not play earlier today.
Here are the rest of the Eagles inactives: CB Dimitri Patterson, RB P.J. Hill, RB Brian Westbrook, LB Chris Gocong, G Max Jean-Gilles, G Mike McGlynn, WR Kevin Curtis, DE Victor Abiamiri.
Cowboys inactives: Stephen McGee -- emergency QB, CB Allen Rossum, S Michael Hamlin, LB Steve Octavien, LB Jason Williams, G Montrae Holland, C Duke Preston, T Pat McQuistan
One thing to note is that the Eagles are keeping all three quarterbacks active for tonight's game. For the past couple weeks, Kevin Kolb had been serving as the emergency quarterback. Might be a sign that the Eagles intend on using the Wildcat formation with Michael Vick more than usual. I'll keep you posted.
Update: Here’s a statement from Eagles athletic trainer Rick Burkholder regarding Westbrook’s injury: “On Friday afternoon, Brian began experiencing symptoms of a mild headache. From that point forward, we had Brian reevaluated by [team internist] Dr. Gary Dorshimer and we put him through extensive testing. Even though those tests were determined to be negative, we all thought it would be in the best interests of Brian and the team that he should be deactivated for tonight’s game. We will continue to evaluate Brian this week.”
On Friday, coach Andy Reid indicated that he simply wanted to get running back LeSean McCoy some extra reps. It’s not often we receive a statement from an athletic trainer only minutes before a game.
ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Cowboys have found a No. 1 wide receiver -- and he doesn't go by the name Roy Williams. For the second consecutive game, fourth-year receiver Miles Austin put up huge numbers in helping the Cowboys pick up a monster win over the Atlanta Falcons.
Austin had six catches for 171 yards and two touchdowns in his first game since breaking the Cowboys' single-game record in a win over the Chiefs two weeks ago. Austin has 16 catches for 421 yards and four touchdowns in his past two games -- and he's become Tony Romo's favorite target.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Cowboys gave Matt Ryan fits almost the entire afternoon. All-Pro outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware had two sacks and caused a fumble in leading a fierce Cowboys pass-rush. Ryan led the Falcons on a long touchdown drive to start the game, but he never really returned to that rhythm. He was 19-of-34 for 198 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. The first interception occurred when Ware and nose tackle Jay Ratliff were breathing down Ryan's neck.
The only Falcons player the Cowboys' defense couldn't account for was fullback Jason Snelling, who had 68 yards rushing on only seven carries. The Cowboys assured themselves of at least being in a tie for second place in the NFC East heading into next Sunday's game against the Seahawks.
It was also a big game for Patrick Crayton, who was benched to make room for Austin in the starting lineup. Crayton caught a touchdown pass with six seconds left in the first half to give the Cowboys a 17-7 lead. Then he put the Falcons away with a punt return for a touchdown. He was pressed into return duties when the newly acquired Allen Rossum went down with a hamstring injury early in the game.
It was also a big day for Cowboys linebacker Keith Brooking, the longtime Falcon. He didn't put up big stats (two tackles) but he was a big reason that Michael Turner couldn't get going. And after plays, Brooking spent time jawing with his former teammates.
There's a good chance the Cowboys and Eagles will both show up for their Nov. 1 game with 5-2 records.
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Cowboys return specialist Allen Rossum was looking forward to finishing out his career in the area where he grew up, but on his first kickoff return since signing with the club, he injured his hamstring. His return is doubtful, according to the Cowboys.
With Rossum out, Patrick Crayton is back handling punt return duties. Cowboys started their second possession of the game with Felix Jones at tailback. After a 3-yard gain, they quickly got him off the field. The Cowboys had back-to-back false starts and then Tony Romo took off running on a third-and-18. The officials ruled that Romo fumbled at the end of the run, but the call was overturned and the Cowboys punted.
Romo took a pretty good shot to the head. Right now, the doctors appear to be taking him through a concussion check.
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
The Cowboys could sign Pro Bowl return specialist Allen Rossum as soon as Wednesday, according to an ESPNDallas.com report. Rossum ranks second in league history with 14,987 return yards. If the deal gets done, the 33-year-old Rossum would immediately take over both kick and punt returns for the Cowboys.
Rossum grew up and attended high school in Dallas, so this would be a great place for him to end his career. It's been more than a decade since the Cowboys have had a reliable return man. I'm trying to track down Rossum as we speak.
He was a third-round draft pick by the Eagles in 1998 as a return specialist/defensive back.
San Francisco return specialist Allen Rossum, a Dallas Skyline High School product, sprained his right ankle while attempting to field a punt. He's getting X-rays right now and we'll keep you updated on his status. Rossum once helped the Falcons reach the NFC title game as a specialist.
Cowboys up, 12-6, with 7:23 left in the first half. If the 49ers lose this game, they'll be haunted by three drives into Cowboys territory in the first quarter that yielded only six points.