Sanders can provide inside information

Redskins' game plan will get boost from ex-Cowboy's revelations

Pro Football

September 15, 2000|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

ASHBURN, Va. - Deion Sanders plans to reveal the key to the Dallas Cowboys' recent success over the Washington Redskins in a team meeting before Monday night's game at FedEx Field.

Sanders, who was released by the Cowboys in a cost-cutting move during the off-season and signed by the Redskins, is willing to do what he has to so that his former team won't win its first game of the year.

"I'm going to address the teammates here and let them know the Cowboys really believe that they can beat the Redskins," Sanders said. "And that is all attitude. When I was a Cowboy, we really believed we could beat the Redskins. And we got to believe that inside this locker room, because you are not going to see an 0-2 football team come to play. You are going to see a football team play like they haven't played this year."

Sanders said he has a greater appreciation for the Redskins-Cowboys rivalry now that he is in Washington. It has been one-sided lately, with Dallas winning nine of the past 13 games - including the past five. The Cowboys overcame a 21-point deficit in the opener last year in Washington and won, 41-35.

In the second game, Sanders returned a punt 70 yards for Dallas' final touchdown in a 38-20 win.

"I didn't think it was that heated playing for the Cowboys," Sanders said. "I didn't really think it was that much of a rivalry. Maybe because we were on the winning side in most of the games I participated. But being a Redskin now, you realize the game is more than just a normal game. It has playoff ramifications if you could understand that this early in the season."

Sanders is coming off what he called the worst game of his career in Sunday's 15-10 loss to Detroit, where he was abused by Lions receiver Johnnie Morton.

"I expect Deion to play at a high level," Redskins coach Norv Turner said. "I expect our entire team to. The stakes are high."

All the ingredients are there for Sanders to have a big game. Besides wanting to atone for last week, Sanders is facing a team that did not think he could play to the level he had in the past. And the game is on a Monday night, where he has played in some of his most memorable games.

He had a 69-yard punt return for a touchdown and a key fourth-quarter interception in a 1998 game against Philadelphia. Earlier that year against the Giants, he returned a punt 59 yards for a touchdown, caught a 55-yard pass as a receiver and returned an interception 71 yards for a score.

"I've had a lot of success on Mondays. It's always special," Sanders said. "You have the center stage for the whole country to see you do your thing. Ever since I was a child, I've been in the spotlight. And everyone has been taking shots at me. And I finally gave the media a chance to take some shots at me, and they did this week. I hope they keep on doing it because some way or the other, I always come out on top, always."

In receivers Raghib Ismail and James McKnight, who starts in place of injured free-agent pickup Joey Galloway, Sanders will be up against familiar faces. Ismail and McKnight played last year in Dallas with Sanders.

It is unknown whether Troy Aikman or Randall Cunningham will be throwing the passes. Aikman sustained a concussion in the Cowboys' opener and missed last week's 32-31 loss to Arizona.

"Every time I see him [Sanders], I tell him it is better to play with you than to have to see you twice a year," Redskins quarterback Brad Johnson said. `This time, Troy and those guys will have to see what we faced for all of those years."

Sanders played in Dallas for five seasons. He recorded 14 interceptions with two returned for touchdowns.

NOTES: Skip Hicks (knee) practiced as did Dan Wilkinson (bruised shoulder) and Sanders (ankle). Guard Keith Sims (Achilles' tendinitis) did not practice but is expected to play Monday. Sims rode a stationary bike during practice.

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