Cowboys brace for Redskins’ running game

Posted Thursday, Oct. 10, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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After being lit up through the air by the San Diego Chargers and Denver Broncos the past two weeks, the Dallas Cowboys must prepare to stop the run in Sunday night’s game against the Washington Redskins at AT&T Stadium.

To do that, they must be ready for quarterback Robert Griffin III and the zone read as well as conventional runs from running back Alfred Morris.

Coach Jason Garrett said the Cowboys spent extra time this off-season preparing for the zone read, which gives the quarterback an option to read the defense and either run or hand off.

In addition to Griffin burning them with it last year, the Cowboys will face several other teams that use the zone read this season, including the Philadelphia Eagles and the Oakland Raiders.

They will need to be better against the Redskins than they were in a 17-16 loss to Kansas City in Week 2, when quarterback Alex Smith gashed the Cowboys for 57 yards on eight carries.

“Like most teams in the NFL we worked on it because teams are using this, and it was an effective tool for a few of the offenses. You’ve just got to make sure you have good answers for it,” Garrett said.

Being effective, according to Garrett, is stopping Griffin and Morris, not one or the other. Griffin had off-season knee surgery and wears a brace. The Redskins are coming off a bye week.

“You can’t let teams run the ball on you, and certainly you can’t let the quarterback impact the game,” Garrett said. “Those two things pretty much week in and week out are things you’re trying to do to stop opposing offenses.”

Defensive end DeMarcus Ware was admittedly fooled by Griffin and the zone read last season.

“I think sometimes now, just having the opportunity to see it two times last year, this is our third time, you get used to what they’re doing,” Ware said.

Bryant vs. Hall

Receiver Dez Bryant said he is ready for a battle against Redskins cornerback DeAngelo Hall, but he doesn’t expect the fisticuffs that nearly broke out between the two last year at AT&T Stadium.

On Thanksgiving Day Hall escalated an argument by taking a swipe at Bryant. Bryant raised his fist as if he was going to punch him but was pulled away.

“There’s no issue between us,” Bryant said. “I just think it’s the competition of the game. We have mutual respect for one another.”

Bryant said he has matured and he believes Hall has too. He also pointed out that nothing arose between the two in last year’s season final against the Redskins.

“I think I’m kind of past that and I think he thinks that too. Last game that we played, we didn’t say a word, as far as disrespect,” Bryant said. “It was more, ‘Let’s go. Let’s play.’ Basically competing against one another.”

Austin update

Receiver Miles Austin has practiced each of the past two days after missing the past two games with a hamstring injury.

While the Cowboys liked what they got from rookie Terrance Williams and slot receiver Cole Beasley in his place Sunday against the Broncos, Jason Garrett said Austin will return to being one of the featured receivers in the offense if he is healthy and ready to go against the Redskins.

Austin has 15 catches for 125 yards in three games this season. Williams in five games has 16 catches for 282 yards, including a four-catch, 151-yard performance against the Broncos and an 82-yard touchdown.

Beasley has eight catches for 70 yards, including four for 47 yards and a touchdown against the Broncos.

“We feel great about Miles Austin when he’s healthy and going,” Garrett said. “He’s a really, really good player both as an outside receiver and an inside guy.”

Clarence E. Hill Jr., 817-390-7760 Twitter: @clarencehilljr

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