It didn't take Moe Elewonibi long to bring up the D-word on Friday night.
The Redskins weren't looking back on their final exhibition game -- probably because coach Richie Petitbon wasn't pleased with their showing in the steamy heat. They were already talking about how they have to play better against the Super Bowl champion Cowboys in the Monday night opener on Sept. 6.
"If we played like we did tonight, we're going to find a bunch of sour faces here in this locker room," said quarterback Mark Rypien.
The Dallas game is one the Redskins have been looking forward to since the schedule was announced last spring. They lost the Monday night opener in Dallas last year, 23-10, and finished with a 9-7 mark.
Elewonibi, who's filling in for injured Jim Lachey, has one of the toughest tasks because he has to keep the Cowboys' top pass rusher, Charles Haley, off Rypien's back.
"It can only get better. I can't play any worse than I did in this game," Elewonibi said. "I know what I did wrong. I've just got to go out there, have good practices and go after it."
Elewonibi gave up the first sack to defensive end Jeff Lageman when he let Lageman get a step around him to the outside.
The second wasn't far behind.
"I figured, OK, I'll get off the ball real quick and [defensive end Marvin Washington] slanted inside," Elewonibi said. "I was like playing head games with myself. I settled down and I finished strong."
He didn't give up another sack and the Redskins put together a 16-play, 89-yard touchdown drive in the second period before Rypien retired for the night.
There's a lot of pressure on Elewonibi because the Redskins' tackle situation became even more uncertain when Joe Jacoby suffered a knee injury during the game. The Redskins aren't sure if Jacoby will be ready for the Dallas game. They postponed a possible magnetic resonance imaging test until they see how it looks today.
Another player whose condition is uncertain is linebacker Andre Collins, who also suffered a knee injury. He will undergo an MRI today.
One positive aspect is that the players have 10 days to heal. Rookie tight end Frank Wycheck of Maryland, who was hospitalized after the game with a concussion and remained in the hospital yesterday for tests, seems to be the only player who's likely out of the game.
The key unanswered question about the Dallas game is whether running back Emmitt Smith will be playing for the Cowboys.
Jerry Jones, the team's owner, has said he doesn't expect Smith to end his holdout in time to play. Jones has said he won't match the $3.375 million deal Thurman Thomas got from the Buffalo Bills.
Jones has said that he can't make Smith the highest-paid running back and still keep quarterback Troy Aikman under the looming salary cap. The Redskins remain unconvinced that Smith won't play. They remember that wide receiver Michael Irvin signed a few days before the opener last year.
"Let me say this: I'll believe it when I see it," defensive lineman Tim Johnson said. "We're not dumb. I'd be shocked if he doesn't sign. Give that man what he wants."
"We're going to prepare like he's going to be there," Collins said. "He's probably the best back in football. They've got a very strong offensive line. Maybe they can just stick anybody back there and get 100 yards. We'll have to wait and see."
NOTES: The coaches are spending the weekend working on the final cuts. They must cut the roster from 60 to 47 tomorrow, but can bring 11 of the players back since the regular-season roster will include 53 players. They can have five rookies on the practice squad, too. . . . Besides Jacoby, Collins and Wycheck, the other injured players were DT Bobby Wilson (neck), OL Jeff Bostic (knee) S Danny Copeland (knee), S Brad Edwards (hip pointer) and S Tom Carter (hamstring).
Date .. .. .. .. ..Opponent .. .. .. .. ..Time
Mon. Sept. 6 .. .. .Dallas .. .. .. .. .. .9
Sun. Sept. 12 .. ..Phoenix .. .. .. .. .. .1
Sun. Sept. 19 .. .at Philadelphia .. .. ...1
Sun. Sept. 26 .. .. .Open date
Mon. Oct. 4 .. .. ..at Miami .. .. .. .. ..9
Sun. Oct. 10 .. .. N.Y. Giants .. .. .. ...1
Sun. Oct. 17 .. .. .at Phoenix .. .. .. ...4
Sun. Oct. 24 .. .. ..Open date
Mon. Nov. 1 .. .. ...at Buffalo .. .. .. ..9
Sun. Nov. 7 .. .. ..Indianapolis .. .. .. .8
Sun. Nov. 14 .. .. .at N.Y. Giants .. .. ..1
Sun. Nov. 21 .. .. ..at L.A. Rams .. .. ...4
Sun. Nov. 28 .. .. .. Philadelphia .. .. ..1
Sun. Dec. 5 .. .. .. at Tampa Bay .. .. ...1
Sat. Dec. 11 .. .. .. .N.Y. Jets .. ...12:30
Sun. Dec. 19 .. .. .. ..Atlanta .. .. .. .1
Sun. Dec. 26 .. .. .. ..at Dallas .. .. ..4
Fri. Dec. 31 .. .. .. ..Minnesota .. .. ..3