The Cowboys played the 2011 game without LB Sean Lee, RB Felix Jones and CB Mike Jenkins due to injury. All three are expected to be available for Sunday’s game, with Jenkins becoming the 3rd CB. Lee is one of their most talented defenders, and is a massive upgrade over 36-year-old Keith Brooking who played in the game last year. Tony Romo was also injured in that game, and wore a protective vest over his ribs. It did not stop him from posting the 2nd-highest passer rating against the Seahawks last season (112.2), and the highest since Richard Sherman became a starter.
The Cowboys have some new starters this season on both sides of the ball:
LG Montrae Hollland >> Nate Livings
RG Kyle Kosier >> Mackenzy Bernadeau
LB Bradie James >> Bruce Carter
CB Terrance Newman >> Brandon Carr
CB Mike Jenkins >> Morris Claiborne
S Abram Elam >> Barry Church
DeMarco Murray had become a starter by the time he was injured last year, so that is not listed as a change. The changes at guard helped the Cowboys get much younger there. Carter played well against the Giants, and also helps them get younger. Claiborne and Carr are the most publicized changes, and give them the ability to play more press and man coverage than last year.
C Phil Costa is unlikely to play this week, and he played in the game last year. Gerald Sensabaugh may be held out with a concussion, and he played in the game last year as well. NT Jay Ratliff is not practicing and is likely to be held out.
Tarvaris Jackson played the game last year with an injured pec that appeared to effect his throws more in that game than in any other. Alan Branch was banged up last year during the Cowboys game, but played anyway. There were not other major injuries of note at that point.
Seahawk Starter Changes:
LB Davis Hawthorne >> Bobby Wagner
RT James Carpenter >> Breno Giacomini
LG Robert Gallery >> Paul McQuistan
QB Tarvaris Jackson >> Russell Wilson
WR Mike Williams >> Golden Tate or Braylon Edwards
Carpenter was still playing during this game, as was John Moffitt. Carpenter played one of his better games, at least run blocking, in the Cowboys game last year. The run blocking, in general, was particularly strong in this game, helping Lynch run for 135 yards. Jackson made some of his worst throws of the season in this game, resulting in three terrible interceptions. The Seahawks yielded only one sack.
An obvious difference is venue as well.