Gurode practices with Cowboys, should start Sunday
Just four days after requiring 30 stitches to close the facial lacerations caused by Albert Haynesworth stomping on his unhelmeted head, Dallas Cowboys center Andre Gurode participated fully in the team's Thursday practice and likely will start on Sunday at Philadelphia in a key NFC East showdown.
"I think he's playing unless something unforeseen happens," Cowboys coach Bill Parcells said after practice. "I think his cuts are healed up pretty good."
Gurode went through the stretching portion of the Wednesday practice, but then sat out all the football-related drills. Parcells said at the time that, if Gurode did not practice Thursday, he would not play in the game against the Eagles on Sunday.
It appears that, while Gurode is still listed as questionable on the official league injury report, the matter of his participation is all but settled. One club official told ESPN.com on Thursday night that Gurode was able to practice "without incident" and a player termed the center "fine."
The fifth-year veteran, a second-round choice in the 2002 draft, has started all three games in 2006 after winning the No. 1 job in training camp. In his first four seasons, the former University of Colorado star bounced back and forth between center and guard.
If Gurode is unable to play Sunday, three-year veteran Al Johnson, who started 31 games at center over the past two seasons, would step in. Second-year guard Cory Procter has also taken some snaps at center this week.
One precaution Parcells said he might take Sunday is to dress eight offensive linemen for the contest, instead of the seven he usually prefers to have available.
There is a chance that Gurode, who met with plastic surgeons earlier this week to discuss his lacerations, could wear a visor Sunday, although he would prefer to try to play without one. Trainers have also been working with the padding in Gurode's helmet, to assure the cuts are protected and that his head gear does not rub them open.
Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com.
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