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Redskins Tasked With Slowing Down High-Octane Cowboys Offense

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Entering Sunday’s divisional matchup, the Dallas Cowboys offense is firing on all cylinders after handily defeating the New York Giants, 35-17, in Week 1. Quarterback Dak Prescott threw for 405 yards and consistently found gaps in the Giants defense. For the first time in his career, Prescott finished with a perfect quarterback rating of 158.3. 

New offensive coordinator Kellen Moore has taken over play calling duties for the Cowboys after the departure of Scott Linehan this offseason. The Cowboys also signed veteran free agent slot receiver Randall Cobb, while tight end Jason Witten came out of retirement.

"He did a great job of calling plays for his first game," head coach Jay Gruden said of Moore. "He mixes the run and pass up very well -- bootlegs and zone reads, keeps you off balance.

Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup have formed a formidable duo on the outside, with Gallup emerging as a vertical threat in his second year in the NFL. Both players finished with more than 100 receiving yards against the Giants.

“[Amari Cooper] is one of the best route runners in the league; how he sets guys up and how’s he able to be patient in certain situations and then turn it on when it needs to," Redskins corner Josh Norman said after Thursday’s practice. "All of them, they all pose different threats, so if you wanna look at it come Sunday, we've got our work cut out for us. But I feel like it’s nothing that we can’t overcome.”

Last week against the Philadelphia Eagles, the Redskins secondary blew two coverages, which led to 51-and 53-yard touchdowns from DeSean Jackson. Facing off against another talented offense this weekend, improved communication is paramount. Norman, the self-proclaimed leader of the secondary, took responsibility for last week’s miscommunications and assured the media that the defense has been working diligently to sure up the back end.

Defensive coordinator Greg Manusky echoed Norman's sentiment in his weekly press conference Thursday.

“We're just going to keep on working it on the field during practice and making sure the communication's there. We'll get it."

Take a look back on photos from past matchups against the Dallas Cowboys.

While a lot of the attention this week has been focused on Dallas' revamped passing attack, the Cowboys are built around All-Pro running back Ezekiel Elliott and a bruising offensive line. Last season at FedExField, Elliott finished the game with 15 carries for a season-low 33 yards. But later in the season, Elliott eclipsed the 100-yard rushing mark on 26 carries and also found the end zone.

On Sunday, the Redskins will be without both Caleb Brantley and Johnathan Allen due to injury, limiting the depth of the interior defensive line. Both Tim Settle and recent signees T.Y. McGill and Treyvon Hester are expected to play increased roles.

On passing downs, the Redskins also understand the importance of putting Prescott under duress. A key matchup to watch will be ninth-year outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan against Pro Bowl left tackle Tyron Smith. In 16 games against the Cowboys, Kerrigan has 11.5 sacks.

Opposite Kerrigan will be first-round rookie Montez Sweat and Ryan Anderson, and inside will be proven pass-rushers Matt Ioannidis and Daron Payne. They'll all play a role in trying to collapse the pocket and disrupt a high-octane Cowboys offense.

“It’s no pressure; we’ll apply that pressure, though," Norman said when asked if there's added pressure facing the Cowboys. "You won’t see us running from anything or hiding from anything in the shadows."

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