Redskins.com looks at two key matchups to keep an eye on during Sunday's Redskins-Cowboys game at FedExField.
"Redskins-Cowboys: Marquee Matchup" is presented by Papa John's.
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Trent Williams vs. DeMarcus Ware
It doesn't get any tougher for Trent Williams. The rookie left tackle matches up against one of the game's top pass rushers – DeMarcus Ware – in his NFL debut.
Williams has said that he cannot match Ware's athleticism and experience, but he can stand his ground with the right technique. He has focused on footwork and hand placement and using his mobility to defend against Ware's surprising speed.
Williams might get a little help from running backs and tight ends in pass protection. A well-timed chip from a running back could be enough to help quarterback Donovan McNabb get off a pass downfield.
In the Cowboys' 3-4 defense, Ware brings a combination of strength and quickness as a pass-rushing linebacker. He has posted double-digit sacks in four of his five NFL seasons, including 20 in 2008.
Williams struggled against a bull-rush by Baltimore's Terrell Sugg in preseason, so Ware may try to copy that approach. Williams must be mindful that Ware could be setting him up for a speed rush later on, perhaps in a pivotal moment.
"I think everybody has tendencies to do something, it's just are you good enough to take advantage of that tendency," Williams said. "With [Ware] being such a great pass rusher, his tendencies are better than a lot of other people at their best."
London Fletcher vs. Marion Barber/Felix Jones
The Redskins have installed a new 3-4 defense that will require a period of adjustment. Fortunately, London Fletcher's job remains mostly the same: burst past blockers to tackle ball-carriers on run plays.
Fletcher has a knack for getting in position to make plays. He led the Redskins with 172 tackles a year ago as the defense finished 16th in the NFL against the run.
Fletcher has posted 11 consecutive seasons with 100 tackles, the longest streak among all NFL players.
The Cowboys produced the NFL's second-best rushing attack in 2009. They have a strong one-two punch at running back with Marion Barber and Felix Jones. Barber is more of a bulldozing power back while Jones provides a great burst of speed.
Barber totaled 932 rushing yards and seven touchdowns a year ago while averaging 4.4 yards per carry. Jones added 685 yards and three touchdowns, averaging a remarkable 5.9 yards per carry. Jones really emerged in the playoffs last year when he rushed for 148 yards – including a 73-yard touchdown run – against the Philadelphia Eagles.
The Cowboys' passing game is also a potent one, but if the Redskins can make the offense one-dimensional, then they can tee off on quarterback Tony Romo and force him into mistakes.