Asante Samuel sat out Eagles practice Thursday, a bad sign for his availability Sunday. He watched a portion of practice from the sideline but then left.

"His knee's sore," Eagles coach Andy Reid said. "He had it checked out and there's nothing structurally wrong."

Samuel had participated in some of Wednesday's practice but had a large bag of ice on his knee after the session. The fact that he had to sit out Thursday was ominous for the Eagles.

Reid, however, would not rule out the Pro Bowl cornerback for the Cowboys game. Samuel suffered a knee sprain against the Giants on Nov. 21. It kept him out of the last two games. He was unavailable for comment Thursday.

If Samuel is out, he would again be replaced as a starter by Joselio Hanson. Rookie Trevard Lindley would come in on nickel packages.

Hanson has taken all of the first-team repetitions in practice this week.

"I'm going to practice like I'm going to be starting. That's just a mind-set you've got to have. You've got to be accountable for what you do in the game," Hanson said. "It's harder when you start the game and didn't have any reps, or when you get thrown in the game when somebody gets injured."

Winston Justice (knee) also sat out Thursday, marking the second straight day that he missed practice. If he can't play, King Dunlap will fill in.

The other lineup question is at right guard, where Max Jean-Gilles and Nick Cole have rotated in recent weeks. Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg would not commit to a starter Thursday.

What's the difference?

When they study the Cowboys, what do the Eagles' coordinators see in Dallas' current 3-1 run that is different from their 1-7 opening?

"Turnovers," Mornhinweg said. "That turnover ratio is the biggest statistic that correlates to winning."

In the four games since Jason Garrett took over as interim coach, the Cowboys have eight interceptions and three fumble recoveries. That accounts for more than half of their 21 total takeaways this season.

The Cowboys are also running more, said defensive coordinator Sean McDermott.

"They've been successful running the ball, so why not stick with it?" McDermott said. "They've done a great job."

The Cowboys have run the ball 28, 30, 32, and 46 times in the last four weeks. Previously, they had not run it more than 28 times in a game this season.

The result? The Cowboys have gained at least 100 yards on the ground each week under Garrett. They racked up a 217-yard day against the Colts on Sunday.

Extra points

What does it mean to Michael Vick to have the fourth-highest passer rating in the fourth quarter and third-highest on third downs? "I like staying on the field, and I like winning," Vick said. . . . Defensive end Trent Cole confirmed that he was fined $20,000 for a low hit on Texans quarterback Matt Schaub. Cole said he was blocked into Schaub and plans to appeal.