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Xavier Woods says Minnesota Vikings were preparing for Dak Prescott to start at QB for Dallas Cowboys, not Cooper Rush

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MINNEAPOLIS — Despite the uncertainty surrounding Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott‘s availability leading into Sunday night’s Week 8 matchup at Minnesota, Vikings safety Xavier Woods said his team did not prepare for Prescott’s backup, Cooper Rush.

Prescott, who is dealing with a calf injury, was limited in practice Wednesday through Friday and was listed as questionable on the final injury report. He went through a pregame warmup before being ruled inactive Sunday night, leaving fifth-year QB Rush to make his first career start in place of Prescott.

Rush would end up throwing for 325 yards and two touchdowns — including the go-ahead score with less than a minute to play in regulation — in a 20-16 Dallas victory, becoming the second quarterback in Cowboys history to throw for 300 yards in his first career start.

Asked about the Minnesota defense preparing for Rush vs. Prescott, Woods said: “We weren’t.”

“We were just preparing for 4 (Prescott),” Woods continued. “We kind of thought they were going to still run the same offense. So, we just prepared for 4 all week. We didn’t get the word until pregame (that Rush was going to start), so we just prepared for 4 but we watched a couple clips of Coop. But during the week, we just prepared for 4.”

Coach Mike Zimmer said Minnesota had “a lot of film” on Rush and told ESPN’s Ed Werder that the Vikings would change their defensive strategy in the event Dallas started its No. 2 quarterback. In that scenario, Zimmer said his team would force Rush to beat them by taking away the run game by loading the box.

According to ESPN Stats & Information research, Minnesota only loaded the box on 17% of Dallas’ rushing attempts. The Cowboys totaled 78 rushing yards Sunday.

Minnesota leads the NFL in losses (4) and games (6) that have been decided by one possession this season. Dallas took its only lead of the game with 55 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, when Rush found Amari Cooper in the end zone for a 5-yard touchdown.

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Dallas Cowboys haven’t asked me to sit vs. New Orleans Saints

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FRISCO, Texas — Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott does not want to take a game off despite a bruised right knee.

“No one’s came to me and asked me to rest,” Elliott said Sunday as the Cowboys opened up preparation for Thursday’s game against the New Orleans Saints.

If they do, Elliott said he would listen.

“I’ve just got to go with what they believe is best for the team,” he said.

Elliott said he has been dealing with the injury since banging it in the Oct. 3 win against the Carolina Panthers.

A day after the Thanksgiving Day loss to the Las Vegas Raiders, coach Mike McCarthy expressed concern for Elliott’s health after Elliott had just 25 yards on nine carries. The running back has not topped 51 yards in his last four games, the lowest-output of his career.

“It’s that time of year,” McCarthy said. “Zeke’s running style is ferocious. He gives a pounding and he takes some hits. We need to evaluate that and this week we’ll see what the preparation looks like for him.”

A source told ESPN the Cowboys will consider providing Elliott some time off to heal, including the possibility of holding him out of Thursday’s game. The source does not believe placing Elliott on injured reserve is a consideration at this time. That would require him Elliott to miss at least three games.

The Cowboys have scaled back Elliott’s snaps in the last four games to help manage the injury. He has played 164 of 280 offensive snaps (58.5%) after playing in 379 of 451 snaps (84%) in the first seven games of the season.

Elliott has missed just one game in his career because of injury (calf strain last December vs. the San Francisco 49ers). He was held out of the season finales in 2016 and ’18 because the Cowboys’ playoff position was set, and he was suspended for six games in 2017.

“He’s the ultimate competitor,” right guard Zack Martin said. “We see it on a day in, day out basis and I think everyone is seeing it. He takes great pride in being there for his teammates and doing whatever he can in his power to help this team win. For me, he’s one of the top competitors I’ve been around, and he’s going to keep doing that.”

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Follow live: Lamar returns for Ravens in AFC North showdown vs. Browns

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Groin injury ends Randall Cobb’s most productive day since his return to Green Bay Packers

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GREEN BAY, Wis. — Randall Cobb‘s most productive day since his return to the Green Bay Packers this season ended at halftime of Sunday’s game against the Los Angeles Rams.

Cobb was ruled out at the start of the second half because of a groin injury.

He set a season high for receiving yards in the first half with 95 on four catches, including a 7-yard touchdown that was his fifth score of the season. Previously on that drive, Cobb had a 43-yard reception to move the Packers into the red zone. It was not immediately clear when Cobb suffered the injury. He muffed a punt in the second quarter but stayed in the game.

The Packers traded for Cobb this past summer at the request of quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Cobb played for the Packers from 2011 to 2018. They let him go in free agency, and he spent one season each with the Cowboys and Texans.

The Packers finally had their full complement of receivers back with the return of Allen Lazard from a shoulder injury. It lasted for one half.

Cobb’s previous best game came in Week 4, when he caught six passes for 69 yards and two touchdowns.

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