IRVING, Texas - Here are some thoughts from the scout's notebook after a full week of practice and preparation for the Chiefs game Sunday at Noon (CDT).
- I feel like that Brian Waters will be active and play in this game against the Chiefs but I do not believe he starts. I believe that Jason Garrett and Bill Callahan will go with the same lineup that started the Giants game and work Waters in for Mackenzy Bernadeau on the right side. Heard nothing but positive thoughts on the way that Waters practiced this week after just totally focusing on his conditioning last week.
- The shoulder injury to Morris Claiborne is a concern to this staff and it should be because of the decision to carry just four corners. The Chiefs do not run a great deal of multiple wide receiver sets like they saw from the Giants. Claiborne is taking reps at practice and doing the best he can to get himself ready. This situation made me think back to training camp and how well Orlando Scandrick played while Claiborne was out. I would not be one bit surprised if the healthy Scandrick starts this game and work Claiborne as needed just because of how Kansas City plays their receivers.
- My gut tells me right now that Anthony Spencer plays in this game against the Chiefs this week. He is practicing on Friday for that opportunity but if he doesn't, then it's a decision that the front office and coaches will have to make. I believe that George Selvie is starting this game at left defensive end with Spencer coming off the bench as the situation dictates. Spencer sat out practice on Thursday as part of the plan, so the thought of a setback of swelling or pain in the knee did not take place. I was told that when he did practice on Wednesday, he was moving around well and at times showed some burst. Even if it is just for a handful of plays, this defense could use him off the edge working against rookie Eric Fisher.
- The goal for Monte Kiffin should be to try and make Alex Smith beat him in this game. I expect to see a mix of straight four man rush with a blitz or two mixed in but I expect Kiffin to play Smith with a zone and see if he can make enough throws to beat it. Smith does not take too many chances with the ball nor does he like to force it down the field. His career average for yards per attempt is only 6.54 yards. He is most comfortable when he has to make simple throws. The key for Kiffin and his defense is to not allow Jamaal Charles, Knile Davis and Cyrus Gray to get going running the ball. When Smith does throw short, rally and keep the ball from the sticks. Put the pressure on Smith to make plays.
- There are several matchups that will be key in this game and we have gone through several of them on DallasCowboys.com, but keep an eye on Jason Witten and Eric Berry. When teams like to bring pressure, Witten is one of the best "Hot" outlets in the league because it is rare that he makes a mistake in what type of coverage that he sees. He has always played with tremendous awareness and dependability. Berry is one of those safeties that doesn't lag back in coverage but when he sees a play developing, he is on it. He showed the ability to physically handle routes up the field and he is athletic enough to defend the ball while it is in the air. Along with Brandon Flowers, they have the ability to lock down skill guys and they force the offense to have to go with the ball in other directions. Witten and Berry should be a classic on Sunday afternoon. [embedded_ad]
- The Chiefs started Geoff Schwartz at right guard last week for Jon Asamoah who is week-to-week with a calf injury. If Schwartz once again starts, that right side of their line is the one that struggles the most. Schwartz is a big man that plays stiff legged and doesn't bend or move all that well. Look for Jason Hatcher to take shot or two against him this weekend. Where the defensive line might do some good is with Hatcher and Ware to that side in the twist game or bringing Lee or Carter inside.
- Arrowhead Stadium is one of the toughest stadium to play in when you are the visiting team. The crowd noise is similar to what you experience in Seattle or Minnesota. By Jason Garrett taking his squad to AT&T Stadium for two practices, he saved them the wear and tear of dealing with the heat but it also allowed him to use the stadium to simulate the crowd noise that they will get this weekend. The equalizer for the Cowboys in this game will be Tony Romo, who is comfortable running his offense in this type of environment. In camp, there were plenty practices of working on the silent count, which they will need. Other than his center and left guard, he has a veteran group to work with and that should help as they attempt to weather the storm. What this offense has to be careful of in this situation is the pre snap penalty, they have to stay ahead of the chains in this game.