The Dallas Cowboys’ offense faces its biggest test since the season opener against the San Francisco 49ers. The Seattle Seahawks rank fifth in total defense but arguably have the top unit in football.
“They do everything really well,” Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo said. “I think it’s a difficult atmosphere. They’re great up front; they’re great on the back end; they’re fast; they tighten down on their defense, and make it constricted.
“You have to be aggressive and take your shots to get them off, and you’ve got to be able to be sound and execute. It’s definitely a big test, and we’re excited about it.”
The Tennessee Titans rank 23rd in total defense, the St. Louis Rams 13th, the New Orleans Saints 25th and the Houston Texans 26th. The Cowboys averaged 29.5 points and 402.3 yards in four consecutive victories over those four teams.
The defending Super Bowl champion Seahawks are another story entirely, especially at home.
Romo understands the challenge.
“We’ve seen plenty of times one game isn’t going to define your season at this point,” Romo said. “However, there are very important games, and you know this game is a game that is a great test for us.”
Safety C.J. Spillman, who is being investigated for an alleged sexual assault last month at the team hotel in Grapevine, was investigated last December when he was with the San Francisco 49ers for allegedly attempting to rape a massage therapist at her Santa Clara studio, according to the New York Daily News.
Spillman vehemently denied the California accusations when interviewed by police and the district attorney’s office never filed charges.
Tight end Gavin Escobar played only four snaps in the Cowboys’ 20-17 victory over the Texans, the second fewest of his 21-game career. For the season, Escobar has played only 62 snaps, making three catches for 18 yards.
“I guess it’s tough to be patient,” said Escobar, a 2013 second-round pick. “You’ve got to take advantage of your opportunities when your name is called, and that’s what I’m trying to do.”
The Cowboys have had trouble finding Escobar a role. Pro Bowler Jason Witten is their starter and backup James Hanna is a better blocker. Hanna played 20 of 75 snaps against the Texans as the Cowboys had 33 running plays.
“We have a lot of plays and packages for him to get out there,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said of Escobar. “Sometimes you get a chance to call those things. Other times, you are doing different things to try to win the games.”
Escobar played only 206 snaps on offense last season, with Hanna getting 315. Hanna has 92 snaps this season, Escobar 62.
“There are some things we think he does better than James Hanna,” Garrett said. “There are some things James Hanna does better. He is a good player, and he is getting better, and he is working hard at it. He will get opportunities as we go forward.”
The Cowboys were missing three linebackers at practice Wednesday. Starters Bruce Carter (thigh) and Rolando McClain (groin) and backup Cameron Lawrence (thigh) were sidelined with injuries.
Romo (back) kept with his usual schedule and rehabbed during a Wednesday practice, while backup offensive tackle Jermey Parnell (chest) also sat out.
Defensive end Anthony Spencer (knee) was limited.
Defensive tackle Henry Melton (calf) and receiver Dez Bryant (shoulder) were full participants.