ASHBURN, Va. -- In the 72-year history of the NFL, only two running backs -- O. J. Simpson and Eric Dickerson -- have rushed for more than 2,000 yards in one season.
Emmitt Smith of the Dallas Cowboys hopes to become the third this year.
"That's my goal," Smith said. "I always set goals that may not be realistic in some eyes. But with all the carries I had last year, anything is possible."
If Smith could only play a few more games against the Washington Redskins, he'd have no trouble doing it.
When the two teams meet Monday night in the season opener in Dallas, stopping Smith is the Redskins' No. 1 goal.
Smith, who carried 365 times last year while leading the league with 1,563 yards, has rushed for more than 100 yards against the Redskins in three straight games.
Only one other running back has pulled off that feat -- Gerald Riggs did it for the Atlanta Falcons before he was traded to the Redskins. Smith could be the first to do it four straight times.
"So far we haven't ever stopped him, really," cornerback Darrell Green said.
"First of all, he's an excellent running back and you can't stop him with 15 players and you can only get 11 on the field," he added with a smile.
"We have to try to get everybody to the ball. That's the secret. One guy normally won't tackle him. Two guys normally won't tackle him. The whole thing is to get everybody out there," Green added.
"He's a bounce kind of runner," said defensive lineman Charles Mann. "Most runners try to hit that hole, and when it's not there they kind of give themselves up. He tries to hit a certain hole, and if it's not there, he's going to bounce off and keep picking into the line until he finds that little seam and then he's gone. Hopefully, we can wrap up and make the tackles before he gets loose."
A fast start against the Redskins would help Smith on his goal to match Dickerson (2,105 yards in 1984) and Simpson (2,003 in 1973) as the only 2,000-yard rushers.
"If I don't get the 2,000, hopefully, I'll miss by only 200 or 300 yards," Smith said.
He's hitting the Redskins at the right time, too. Hampered by the loss of defensive tackle Eric Williams, who's out with a knee injury, they had trouble stopping the run during preseason.
They allowed 605 rushing yards during their five preseason games and gave up 90 yards in 13 carries to Terry Allen of the Minnesota Vikings last Saturday night.
Smith, who's already the Cowboys' seventh leading all-time rusher with 2,500 yards in two seasons, can break the long run even though he doesn't have blazing speed. He broke touchdown runs of 75 and 32 yards against the Redskins last year and had a 48-yarder against them in 1990.
"He's a special back," Cowboys coach Jimmy Johnson said. "He has great balance and leg strength and he has a history of making long runs. Everybody talked about him being small [5 feet 9] and having average speed [when Dallas drafted him], but he has a track record for breaking long runs."
He certainly has against the Redskins.
NOTES: The Redskins made room for Huey Richardson on the active roster by putting tight end James Jenkins on injured reserve with a back injury. They said he injured it lifting weights . . . The Redskins signed three more players -- offensive lineman Tom Fuhler, tight end Ray Rowe and running back George Searcy -- to their five-man practice squad.
Emmitt Smith vs. Redskins
K? ....... ....... ..... No. ...Yards... Avg. ... TDs... Long
Sept. 23 in Washington.. 17..... 68..... 3.7...... 1.... 15
Nov. 22 in Dallas....... 23.... 132..... 5.7...... 2.... 48
Sept. 9 in Dallas....... 11.... 112..... 10.2..... 1.... 75
Nov. 24 in Washington... 34.... 132...... 3.9..... 1.... 32