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Saturday, September 26, 2009
Cowboys catching Panthers at a good time



Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley


Cowboys coach Wade Phillips didn't provide any further details regarding Marion Barber's left quadriceps injury, but as we reported Friday, it's unlikely he'll play against the Panthers on Monday. Meanwhile, Carolina will be without starting linebacker Na'il Diggs (rib), who missed his third straight practice Saturday.

The Panthers will also be without fullback Brad Hoover, strong safety Chris Harris and defensive end Everette Brown. I think Harris' injury is the most worrisome to coach John Fox. He's one of the smartest players on the team and he would've been responsible for keeping track of the Cowboys' talented tight ends, Jason Witten and Martellus Bennett. Obviously the Panthers will do everything they can to keep the Cowboys' offense off the field Monday. The best way to do that is to run the ball with DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart.

The Cowboys were gashed in the running game by the Bucs for 174 yards in Week 1. Williams is one of those rare talents who can beat you inside or outside. The Cowboys have done a poor job on run blitzes at times. Players such as safety Ken Hamlin have to be under control when they blitz. Sometimes Hamlin comes too wide on the blitz, allowing big gains.

Everyone in the Cowboys' secondary has to do a better job of tackling this week. Safety Gerald Sensabaugh had a decent game. Everyone else really struggled. If you let Williams break a tackle, he's capable of taking it the distance on you. The Cowboys can't be quite as aggressive as they were in defending Brandon Jacobs last Sunday. Williams has a lot more wiggle, so you have to play under control.

I'm anxious to see the Steve Smith vs. Terence Newman battle. Smith burned Newman repeatedly in a 2003 playoff game, but Newman's come back and played well against Smith since then. I'm sure the Cowboys will roll coverage toward Smith in an effort to slow him down.