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Week 2 in the NFL | [NFC]

Dallas Needs a Leg It Can Count On

September 17, 2006|Sam Farmer

The shaky kicking situation of his Dallas Cowboys has Coach Bill Parcells seeing double.

He's seriously considering using two kickers tonight against Washington, something he hoped he'd never have to do.

The problem? Neither Mike Vanderjagt nor Shaun Suisham is entirely reliable.

Suisham, a second-year pro, is better at kickoffs but missed a 36-yard field-goal attempt in last Sunday's 24-17 loss to Jacksonville.

Vanderjagt, who in March signed a three-year contract worth $5.5 million, sat out the opener because of a groin injury and is coming off a lousy summer.

Putting two kickers on the active roster probably would force the Cowboys to go with one fewer running back or linebacker.

"In both cases, that would take a pretty good special teams player out of the mix," Parcells said. "You've got a little domino [effect] no matter what you do. If it's a linebacker, then it creates problems maybe on your nickel defense, or on your goal-line defense, or on a couple of special teams. If you go with a back, maybe you are altering your kickoff team.

"It's really not something I look forward to deciding, to tell you the truth."

Good Hands People

Dropped passes used to be a real problem in Seattle.

Now, especially with the addition of former New England receiver Deion Branch, the Seahawks might have the deepest pass-catching corps in the league.

Coach Mike Holmgren plans to use more four-receiver sets, and with the crew he has -- Branch, Darrell Jackson, Nate Burleson, Bobby Engram and D.J. Hackett -- it's easy to understand why.

The biggest problem now? There's only one football.

"I ask them to be unselfish," Holmgren said of his receivers. "But the receivers, more than any other position, their catches mean everything. That's how they get noticed. That's how they get paid a lot of times. That's how they get on 'SportsCenter.'

"So they're everything."

Just Like Old Times

Forgive Minnesota quarterback Brad Johnson, but he had to gloat a little bit after Week 1. Not only did he play a terrific game on "Monday Night Football," completing 10 of 15 passes on third down, but he knocked off the Washington Redskins, the team that dumped him after the 1999 season.

So it's not surprising that after the 19-16 victory at FedEx Field, Johnson slipped on his old Redskins jersey and sauntered to the Vikings' bus.

His Word Is His Bond

Detroit receiver Roy Williams raised eyebrows in Chicago this week when he guaranteed the Lions would beat the Bears in today's NFC North matchup. But not all of the Bears should be indignant. After all, it was only two years ago that Chicago linebacker Lance Briggs made a similar guarantee before a game against Indianapolis.

The result? Colts 41, Bears 10.

The Main Man

For Carolina to keep its Super Bowl hopes alive, receiver Steve Smith has to be in the mix. Smith is recovering from a hamstring injury and will sit out a second consecutive game when the Panthers play today at Minnesota.

Stats LLC points out that no player accounted for a higher percentage of his team's receiving yards last season than Smith, who contributed 44.8%. The four other receivers in the top five were Washington's Santana Moss, 44.3%; Tampa Bay's Joey Galloway, 40.6%; Cincinnati's Chad Johnson, 36.4%; and Chicago's Muhsin Muhammad, 34.1%.

What a Phony

Philadelphia quarterback Donovan McNabb was so convincing last Sunday in his play-action fake to Brian Westbrook, that receiver Donte Stallworth actually thought the bluff handoff was for real. A split-second later, McNabb was throwing a 42-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open Stallworth.

"I thought we ran the ball," Stallworth said. "I thought the play was dead. All of a sudden, I look up and there's the ball."

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-- Sam Farmer

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