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 IRVING, Texas (AP) -Tony Romo's shoulders drooped and Terrell Owens cried after the Dallas Cowboys last played at Texas Stadium.
While that bitter home playoff loss against the New York Giants in January hasn't doused high expectations for this season, Dallas still hasn't won a game since.
OK, so it's only the preseason and Romo and Owens got only limited time in the Cowboys' losses at San Diego and Denver.
That will change when Dallas plays its first home preseason game Friday night against the Houston Texans. That's when the Cowboys will finally put their best players on extended display.
Coach Wade Phillips plans to play his starters into the second half, maybe even the entire third quarter.
Phillips said the Cowboys made the switch out of training camp mode after getting home this week, and responded with their best practices so far. They also took a different approach to game preparation in being ``more specific about what we want to do this game, than long term.''
Romo and the first-team offense got off to a fast start, going eight plays for a touchdown on their opening and only series against San Diego. There were two mistake-filled and penalty-plagued series in Denver last weekend.
``We need more playing time to come together as a team,'' Phillips said.
The Cowboys return all of their NFL-record 13 Pro Bowl players from last year's 13-win team. That includes Romo, Owens and five others on an offense that scored the second-most points in the NFL.
Owens promised this week that the Cowboys will be ready for the regular season, dismissing any notion that there was reason for concern after two preseason losses.
``Once the games start, everybody gets that lather going and you're ready to go out there and play,'' T.O. said.
There will also be a significant change on defense with still-suspended cornerback Adam ``Pacman'' Jones getting his first start for the Cowboys.
Jones, who hasn't yet been cleared by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell for the regular season, had been primarily at right corner behind Anthony Henry before working on the left side Wednesday night in the team's last open practice before the game.
After that workout, Jones wouldn't say what the team had planned for him. But Phillips then confirmed that Jones will start at left cornerback against the Texans in place of injured Pro Bowler Terence Newman (groin) instead of rookie Mike Jenkins.
``I just like to compete, man, and whatever happens, happens,'' Jones said. ``I'm learning the defense, and I'm playing without thinking right now, so that's the best thing.''
The Cowboys expect to find out next week, before having to make their final cuts Aug. 30, if Goodell will fully reinstate Jones from the suspension that kept him from playing for Tennessee last season. Jones was traded to Dallas the week of the NFL draft, and was cleared in June by Goodell to take part in practices and preseason games.
Jones last week sent a letter to Goodell asking to be cleared for the regular season, and saying he would stay out of trouble.
Newman, who got hurt July 28, likely will return to practice by next week and is expected to be ready for the Sept. 7 season opener at Cleveland.
The Texans, who have won both of their preseason games, also plan to play their starters for three quarters, including quarterback Matt Schaub. One notable exception will be Andre Johnson, who missed the first two preseason games because of a strained groin sustained three weeks ago.
Johnson is expected to start, but coach Gary Kubiak said the receiver ``is the one guy that definitely won't play a full three quarters. He looks good. He's fine.''
With the starters for both teams getting extended time, and the semblance of some rivalry with the Texans against Dallas, this game should provide a better indication for the Cowboys if they are prepared for the lofty expectations.
``It's our tuneup for the regular season,'' nose tackle Tank Johnson said. ``It should give us a good feel for what's going on.''

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