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Cowboys RB Murray practicing, but will he play?

Cowboys RB Murray practicing, but will he play?

IRVING, Texas (AP) Dallas running back DeMarco Murray is finally practicing again.

It's unknown if he'll play Sunday night against Philadelphia, and whether his six-game absence is what ails the Cowboys' running game.

Murray was a limited participant in practice Wednesday and Thursday in what coach Jason Garrett said was the most football work the second-year pro has done since spraining his right foot against Baltimore on Oct. 14.

Murray declined interviews after both practices, but did acknowledge a ``good first day'' in a playful exchange with reporters Wednesday.

``If he's ready to go, it will be a boost,'' quarterback Tony Romo said. ``If not, some guys will have to continue to step up.''

The question is whether it's a coincidence the Cowboys have rushed for more than 100 yards just once - and only 101 at that - in six games without Murray, who had a franchise-record 253 yards in his first start as a rookie last season and averaged 5.5 yards per carry.

This year, he had three straight games with a per-carry average under 4 yards before getting 90 and injuring his foot in the first half against the Ravens. He had one 3-yard carry after halftime before going to the sideline for good, and the Cowboys have been on a steady slide to last in the league in rushing ever since.

``I'm hopeful,'' offensive line coach Bill Callahan said. ``When he comes back, we'll see how he feels and see where it all is.''

Felix Jones has seen most of the work in Murray's absence, but he's been slowed by injuries to both knees. While he had 71 yards and another 22 yards receiving with a touchdown in the team's only 100-yard rushing game since Murray's injury, Jones is averaging a career-low 3.6 yards per carry.

There was a chance undrafted rookie Lance Dunbar would start last week against Washington, but Jones managed to stay in the lineup. It didn't matter much after the Cowboys fell behind 28-3 in the first half and had just two rushing attempts in the second half. Jones finished with 14 yards on six carries.

Jones missed practice when Murray returned Wednesday, but he was back on the field as a limited participant Thursday.

``He's done a really good job of fighting through a couple of the injuries,'' Garrett said. ``Knowing the situation at running back with DeMarco being out for a little while, he's just kind of stepped up and gotten himself ready to play in the ballgames.''

The possible return of Murray could also get a boost from a healthier offensive line. Phil Costa, the starting center, remains out with an ankle injury, but Ryan Cook is practicing again after a knee injury forced Mackenzy Bernadeau to slide over from guard the past two games. Left tackle Tyron Smith is closer to a return after spraining an ankle early in the loss to Cleveland on Nov. 18.

``The continuity helps a lot. At the same time, no excuses,'' Bernadeau said. ``We're taught the technique and we take the responsibility of being able to know our jobs and assignments and being able to block consistently and improve. And that's something we haven't done yet.''

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3 reasons why the Caps beat the Sabres

3 reasons why the Caps beat the Sabres

You may think this was an ugly four-game road trip for the Caps, but with a 3-2 win in Buffalo on Monday, Washington managed to earn five out of a possible eight points.

Here is why the Caps beat the Sabres and managed to save the road swing.

A missed high-stick (maybe) from Ovechkin

Ovechkin scored the first goal of the game in the second period as he deflected a high-shot from Christian Djoos down past goalie Chad Johnson. But did the deflection come on a high stick? The play was reviewed and the goal was ultimately upheld. According to the NHL, it was determined that "video review supported the Referee's call on the ice that Alex Ovechkin's stick was at or below the height of the crossbar when he tipped the puck into the Buffalo net."

NBC Sports Washington analyst Alan May broke the play down during the second intermission and made his case for why the NHL actually got the call wrong.

Was that a high stick? I don't know. As compelling an argument as May made, it still looks inconclusive which means the review made the right call. What surprises me is that the referee did not disallow the goal on the initial call.

Whether the review is truly inconclusive or flat out wrong, Washington was fortunate to walk away from this sequence with the goal.

MORE CAPITALS: BIZARRE SEQUENCE LEADS TO CAPS SCORING AND GETTING PENALIZED AT THE SAME TIME

A centimeter of ice

Hockey is a game of inches and it took less than an inch to put Washington up 2-0. When an Evgeny Kuznetsov shot hit off the boards and bounced back to the front of the net, it sparked a scrum next to goalie Chad Johnson. Eventually, John Carlson was able to get a swipe on the puck sending it trickling to the goal line, but Kyle Okposo was there waiting and appeared to kick it out to safety just before it crossed. A review triggered by the Situation Room, however, revealed that the puck had just barely managed to cross the goal line before Okposo got to it.

Here's the view the NHL released after the review:

Philipp Grubauer's third period

After dominating the first 40 minutes of the game and taking a 2-0 lead, Buffalo predictably made a late push in the third period with two goals to pull within one. Washington outshot the Sabres in the first and second periods, but Buffalo reversed that trend in a big way in the third as they outshot the Caps 17-6. Grubauer turned aside 15 of those shots and was impressive after barely being tested in the first two periods.

RELATED: CHECK OUT THE 3 STARS OF THE GAME FROM CAPS-SABRE

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3 stars of the game: Caps knock out the punchless Sabres

3 stars of the game: Caps knock out the punchless Sabres

Coming off an ugly 7-1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks, a Buffalo Sabres team missing star Jack Eichel was just what the doctor ordered for the Caps to get back on track. Washington dominated the first two periods and then survived a late surge from Buffalo for the 3-2 win.

After battling to a scoreless first, Alex Ovechkin and John Carlson spotted Washington a 2-0 lead in the second. They then held on in the third period as Buffalo began to tilt the ice in their favor, with Evgeny Kuznetsov scoring the empty-netter to put this game out of reach. Evander Kane would pull Buffalo within one, but with only three seconds left it was too little, too late.

Here are the three stars of the game:

1. Alex Ovechkin: Ovechkin opened up the scoring in the second period as he deflected down an innocent shot from Christian Djoos past Chad Johnson.

Ovechkin also set a physical tone as he battled with defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen all game long. After taking a high elbow from Ristolainen early in the game Ovechkin skated up to Ristolainen prior to the faceoff on his next shift and let him know that it was on. 

2. John Carlson: Carlson had a hand in both of Washington's first two goals. He recorded a secondary assist on Ovechkin's goal as he made a blue line pass to Djoos which Djoos fired on net and Ovechkin deflected. Carlson then managed to hit the puck past the goal line in a scrum next to Johnson. It looked initially like Kyle Okposo had managed to kick out the puck just before it crossed, but Carlson was awarded the goal as a review showed the puck had completely crossed the line.

3. Philipp Grubauer: A Sabres team that ranks last in the NHL in scoring and that was also without its leading scorer did not test Grubauer much in the first two periods. Facing a 2-0 deficit, however, Buffalo made a third period push to try to tie the game, but Grubauer was up to the task as he turned aside 15 of the 17 shots he faced in the final 20 minutes. He finished with 32 total saves on the night.