Showdown With Saints Awaits; Injury Updates


FRISCO, Texas – It might still be Thanksgiving weekend, but for Jason Garrett and the Cowboys' coaching staff, Friday marked the start of Saints week.

"Right now," Garrett said via conference call with local reporters. "We're on it."

With only seven days until next Thursday's showdown at AT&T Stadium against 10-1 New Orleans, Garrett and his staff have started preparations for the upcoming week of practice. The players get back to work on Sunday, which will mimic a Wednesday schedule on a normal week.

Usually the Cowboys have a 10-day break after their annual Thanksgiving game, but there's little time to celebrate Thursday's 31-23 victory over the Washington Redskins despite its significance: three straight wins and first place in the NFC East with five games to play.

The Saints are also on a seven-day schedule after winning their 10th straight game Thursday night against the Atlanta Falcons.

"We've obviously had a lot of stuff broken down (on the Saints) already," Garrett said. "We graded the film and had our meeting this morning about yesterday's game and now we're on to New Orleans.

"Got to get on it quickly. Obviously they're a great football team."

The Saints' 10-1 record ties the L.A. Rams for tops in the NFL, and their 10-game win streak is the longest in the league. Led by quarterback Drew Brees, their offense averages an NFL-best 37.2 points per game, and their defense has surged in recent weeks. New Orleans sacked Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan six times Thursday night and forced four turnovers.

The Cowboys have been a different team since trading for wide receiver Amari Cooper during the bye week. Since a Nov. 5 home loss to Tennessee, they've won three straight games to match Washington's 6-5 division record. Cooper's 180 receiving yards (with two touchdowns) were the most by a Cowboys wideout in six years.

 "We're staying in the moment now and that's what it's about," quarterback Dak Prescott said. "Taking it one game at a time, and that's what we showed (Thursday)."

Prescott threw for a season-high 289 yards without left tackle Tyron Smith, who warmed up before the game but ultimately was still bothered by the neck stinger he suffered against the Falcons. Garrett said Smith likely will not practice with contact when the players return to work Sunday.

"We'll just try to put some distance between these stingers and see if he's able to go next Thursday night," Garrett said.

The Cowboys will also monitor the work of defensive end Taco Charlton, who has missed the last two games with a shoulder injury.

Dallas has been strong defensively all season, and the group forced a season-high three turnovers against the Redskins.

A new challenge awaits them next Thursday.

"Obviously their quarterback is a rare player and has been for a long time," Garrett said of Brees.

"They're very efficient but they're also very explosive. They have a lot of different guys they get the ball to. They attack you a lot of different ways. We have the utmost respect for (Saints head coach) Sean Payton and what he's done there with that offense. They're as good as it gets."