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Posted at 07:00 AM ET, 09/21/2011

Key areas to monitor entering Dallas Week

The Washington Redskins get back to work Wednesday following two days off, and now they begin preparing for the Dallas Cowboys, whom they face Monday night in Texas.

The Redskins are going for their first 3-0 start since 2005, and will aim to remain perfect in the division.

Washington navigated several miscues on Sunday and managed to pull off the win, but still need improvement in several key spots.

Here are five areas to keep an eye on this week:

8 Banged up secondary – Will strong safety LaRon Landry make his debut after missing the first two games with a strained right hamstring? Washington could certainly use one of their top playmakers against the Cowboys, who are a pass-first team. The Redskins became even thinner in the secondary on Sunday when starting right cornerback Josh Wilson and nickel back Kevin Barnes both went down with injuries. Mike Shanahan said he’d have an update on both corners on Thursday. Backup safety DeJon Gomes (the only reserve behind Oshiomogho Atogwe and Reed Doughty) also left the game with an injury.

8 Red zone execution – Expect a lot of talk about this area this week after the Redskins were unspectacular inside the 20 on Sunday. Shanahan said that the team will continue to work on the areas that they aren’t very strong in, and this is one of them. Washington won’t always be able to win games despite struggles in scoring position.

8 Pass protection – The Redskins will face another team that likes to bring the pressure, and left tackle Trent Williams will have to be at his best as he matches up with DeMarcus Ware. Teams have been able to get to the quarterback by bringing pressure up the middle. The Redskins need to shore that up to help save Rex Grossman, who has been taking some licks.

8 Cowboys healthThis is one banged up team. Quarterback Tony Romo’s status is in doubt, running back Felix Jones is playing with a separated shoulder, and the Cowboys could be without both of their top receivers – Miles Austin and Dez Bryant – and the list goes on.

8 Roy Helu’s role – Look for the rookie to be worked into the gameplan more following his strong outing on Sunday. Tim Hightower remains the workhorse, but now Helu showed he doesn’t have to completely shoulder the load. Everyday is another proving ground for the Nebraska product, Shanahan said. His contributions on blitz pickups this week will be just as important as running and catching the ball.

By  |  07:00 AM ET, 09/21/2011

 
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