Replacing Robert Newhouse is a lot like trying to tackle him - it's a tough, tough job.
Newhouse, who Fractured a bone in his right leg in Sunday's Dallas victory over the New Orleans Saints and will not pay Thursday against the Redskins, has been the most consistent and underrated Cowboy this season, according to Coach Tom Landry.
Scott Laidlaw, the Cowboys' new fullback has spent most of his five-year NFL career as a special-teams performer. He has carried the football 25 times this season for 82 yards.
The 5-10, 215-pound Newhouse has rushed for 571 yards and caught 20 mases for 176 yards. He has scored nine trochdowns, more than any other Cowboy.
It's tough to lose him now because he was playing so well," Landry said.
Newhouse is a superb blocker and a primary reason halfback Tony Dorsett has been able to run for 1,000 yards this season. Because Newhouse is such a fine runner, defense could not just stack up to stop Dorsett.
"Tony is running will but he'll miss Newhouse," Landry said. "Scott Laidlaw will do all right but he won't take the pressure off Tony like Robert did. Robert has a reputation and he's proven in the past what he could do."
Where Newhouse has a unique, low-to-the-ground running style and quick darting moves, Laidlaw at 6 feet, 205 pounds, is more of a straight-ahead power runner.
"Laidlaw has a good body lean when he runs, but he just doesn't have that running flair Newhouse has," Landry said. "He's a pretty good blockers, but has been mainly a special-teams performer untils on."
Laidlaw describes himself as "just one of those plow horses. I'm not a thoroughbred. I can run fairly decently, I can catch and I can block pretty good, so I think I'm a decent asset, I can do what's needed of me."
Laidlaw said he always has been ready to play, "but it came as quite a surprise to me when Bob (Newhouse) took himself out of the game because I always thought he was indestructible. It was really weird, seeing him go down.
"I don't expect to carry the ball as many times as Newhouse did, but I think I can block as well as anyone around and if I'm not going to be able to run the ball I might as well hit somebody any other way I can. And that's by blocking them.
"All year I've been waiting to get in and show people what I can do. I hated for it to come about this way, though. I made the team supposedly becauses I was a good football player. Now I get a chance to show it."
Landry said that Newhouse would not be put on the injured reserve list because it is possible he could play again in two or three weeks.
The injury has been dagnosed as a fractured fibula, which is a small, non-weight-bearing bone in the lower leg.
"It's sore," Landry said of Newhouse's injury, "but it's the type of fracture you can play with once the soreness is taken care of."
The only other fullback the Cowboys have besides Newhouse and Laidlaw is larry Brinson. He has carried the ball four times for minus-two yards.
Preston Pearson is Dorsett's backup. He is capable of playing fullback and undoubtedly will play some at that position until Newhouse gets back.
The only other running back the Cowboys have is rookie Alois Blackwell.
Landry said the absence of John Riggins with a sprained ankle hurt the Redskins last week. "He is the key to their offense," Landry said. "If he is back healthy, he will make a big difference for them.
"I think the loss of Diron Talbert will really hurt them because they don't have a lot of depth," Landry added. "Ron McDole will have to play a lot more now and I expect them to play a lot of 3-4."
Landry said that it is obvious to him that Jack Pardee has committed himself to Joe Theismann at quarterback.
"I think Jack is probably building for the future, which is, of course, different from what George (Allen) did," Landry said, "Joe Theismann is his future, Billy Kilmer is not, but he would go with Kilmer if he thought he could win with him."
Dorsett is second in the NFC in rushing and his five-yards-per-carry average is the best in the conference . . . Roger Staubach is the No. 2 passer in the conference and the Cowboys rank first in rushing, passing and total offense . . . The Cowboys were off Monday, went through a lengthy practice yesterday and will have a shorter one today.
The visiting dressing rooms will remain open to the press as will the Dallas locker room on the road.
"I don't like it but something had to be done in my opinion," said Cowboy Coach Tom Landry. "It's an unfortunate situation." This has nothing to do with women's rights. There are certain rights nobody has - I don't want to go into a women's locker room."
Two women sports writers cover the Cowboys - one from Corpus Christi and the other from San Antonio.