IRVING (AP) — The Dallas Cowboys and Denver Broncos are done practicing against each other. Now they have a preseason game to play.
So can there really be any surprises Saturday night after the teams banged against each other during four workouts over two days this week?
“It will be pretty much the same. We’re looking at the basics,” Broncos coach Mike Shanahan said. “We know what they’re going to do, they know what we’re going to do. We’re not going to game plan anything.”
At least the game at Texas Stadium won’t be scripted like the practices were.
Most starters are expected to play at least a half Saturday night, more than they did in preseason openers that both teams won.
That means a few extra snaps to watch:
Cowboys receiver Terrell Owens going against the Broncos cornerback duo of Champ Bailey and Dre’ Bly. The last time T.O. went head-to-head in a game against the seven-time Pro Bowler Bailey, Owens had the longest touchdown of his career — a 91-yarder in his final game for the Philadelphia Eagles in 2005.
“Nah, I wouldn’t say I own him,” Owens said with a smile. “It’s going to be challenging.”
Tony Romo and Jay Cutler, the young quarterbacks who became starters in the second half of the 2006 season. Romo replaced Drew Bledsoe in the Cowboys’ ninth game and got into the Pro Bowl, while Cutler matched Hall of Famer Dan Marino as the only rookies to throw at least two TDs in each of his first four starts after he replaced Jake Plummer. Denver’s starting defenders, minus tackle Gerard Warren, continuing to adjust to new coordinator Jim Bates’ scheme designed in part to better stop the run. The Broncos still had some problems in their 17-13 preseason-opening victory when San Francisco averaged 4.1 yards per carry.
The Broncos are trying to trade Warren, and if they can’t make a deal will likely release the seven-year veteran who got a new seven-year contract before last season. Warren didn’t go to San Francisco and wasn’t in Texas this week with the team.
Cowboys offensive tackles Flozell Adams and Marc Colombo, who both sat out the opener while recovering from arthroscopic knee operations.
Wade Phillips’ second game as Cowboys coach comes nine days after a 23-10 victory over defending Super Bowl champion Indianapolis. It’s against the team that gave Phillips his first full-time head coaching job. He went 16-16 with a playoff loss in two seasons with the Broncos before Shanahan replaced him in 1995.
“There wasn’t any bitterness after I left,” Phillips said. “We had a lot of injuries. We went to the playoffs the first year I was there, and the second year (John) Elway was out the last three games. That kind of hurts a little bit.”
Denver went 8-8 in Shanahan’s debut season, then won back-to-back Super Bowl titles after the 1997 and 1998 seasons with Elway.
“It just worked out well for (Shanahan). He’s done a great job and is a great coach,” Phillips said. “But they went 8-8 the next year. They didn’t go to the Super Bowl the next year, so I don’t feel bad that all of a sudden I couldn't coach the team at all.”
Phillips was Buffalo’s defensive coordinator for three seasons before going 29-19 with two playoff losses in three seasons as Bills head coach.
Phillips was then defensive coordinator in Atlanta and San Diego before Dallas owner Jerry Jones picked Phillips over nine other candidates to coach the five-time Super Bowl champion Cowboys, who haven't won a playoff game in 10 seasons.
Despite practicing together in triple-digit heat, the Cowboys and Broncos said they got plenty of good work. And there weren’t even any significant fights among opposing players.
“There have been some intense, good practices. It’s been very productive,” Broncos safety John Lynch said.
“It was a good two days of work,” Owens said. “It gets a little grueling, kind of thudding up a little bit, but on (Saturday) you get to actually pad it up and really go after it.”
The Broncos announced that wide receiver Javon Walker, who tweaked his surgically repaired right knee during Thursday’s first practice, would miss the game. Left tackle Matt Lepsis, whose return from reconstructive knee surgery has been delayed by a pulled groin muscle, and right tackle Adam Meadows (calf), will also sit out.
Guard Ben Hamilton (concussion) and rookie tackle Ryan Harris (back) are also hurt, and Shanahan said tight end Chad Mustard will play right tackle against the Cowboys.