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BRONCOS BUCK COWBOYS, 20-17

SHARE BRONCOS BUCK COWBOYS, 20-17

The Denver Broncos' new offense is a lot like the old one - possessing plenty of firepower. Last year's porous defense, however, has yet to prove it has improved.

In their fourth preseason game - the first in which they worked from a game plan - the Broncos generated 455 yards, a preseason high in the NFL this season, and beat the Dallas Cowboys 20-17 Monday night.Denver (3-1) had 233 yards at the half against the Cowboys' defense, No. 1 in the NFL last year.

Denver's first-string defense, on the other hand, yielded 237 yards in the first half, and Troy Aikman and Michael Irvin hooked up almost at will. Irvin, finding gaping holes in the secondary, hauled in six passes for 135 yards and two touchdowns in the half, then sat out the second half, as did Aikman.

The Aikman-to-Irvin combination helped stake Dallas (1-3) to a 17-10 halftime lead.

Denver reserve quarterback Bill Musgrave outdueled his counterpart, Wade Wilson, in the second half.

Musgrave, battling Hugh Millen for the No. 2 spot behind John Elway, completed 14 of 23 passes for 155 yards, including a third-quarter touchdown pass to tight end Jerry Evans.

In NFL camp news:

Bengals

Surgery is the best way to handle the knee injury that apparently will cost top draft choice Ki-Jana Carter his rookie season with Cincinnati, according to Dr. James Andrews, an orthopedic surgeon who examined Carter on Monday in Birmingham, Ala.

Bengals spokesman Jack Brennan said Andrews agreed with the opinion of Bengals team physician Dr. Robert Heidt that surgery was necessary to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament in Carter's left knee.

Chargers

San Diego said goodbye to Leo Araguz, thus giving the punting job to Darren Bennett, a former Australian Rules player. Bennett, 6-foot-5 and 235 pounds, averaged 45.8 yards on six punts in two exhibition games, with a long of 63 yards. Araguz was among 13 players waived Monday.

Steelers

Pittsburgh signed 14-year veteran Norm Johnson to help their ailing kicking game. The signing casts doubt on the status of Dean Biasucci, who missed all four kicks he tried in last weekend's exhibition loss to Tampa Bay.

Jets

Stevie Anderson and Orlando Parker, expected to be downfield threats, were cut. The Jets got down to 59 players, one under the league limit. New York also waived another wide receiver, Tom Garlick, as well as safety Pat Terrell, punter Bryan Wagner and tight end Paul Burke.

Cardinals

Arizona waived five players and put three on injured reserve. in getting down to the 60-player limit a day early.

Eagles

Philadelphia acquired defensive tackle Ronnie Dixon from Cleveland in exchange for a 1996 draft choice. The Eagles waived six players, but still faced 11 more cuts to get down to the required 60.

Redskins

Eighteen players were scheduled to get the ax, none of them expected to be household names. Coach Norv Turner said he's made up his mind already on who'll go. One would appear to be quarterback Brad Bretz, who didn't even get a snap in an intrasquad scrimmage, much less a game.

Buccaneers

Fullback Anthony McDowell knew he was in trouble when the tight ends ran the ball more than he did in an exhibition game. Sure enough, the fourth-year fullback was waived Monday, one of 13 let go as Tampa Bay moved to meet the 60-man deadline.

Panthers

Eleven players were cut and one added as Carolina got closer to the 65-player limit allowed to expansion teams. Wide receiver Ray Etheridge, who has played in both the NFL and the CFL, was obtained from Cleveland in exchange for future considerations.

Rams

St. Louis got down to 66 players by cutting nine on Monday. Defensive lineman Ernest Jones, a second-year player from Oregon, was the only veteran in the group nine players cut.

Bears

Amid the tumult over who will start at quarterback, the Bears have to reduce their roster to 60 and get ready for an exhibition game on Thursday. Coach Dave Wannstedt said that, ideally, the starter on Thursday would be the No. 1 quarterback when the season begins. For now, neither Erik Kramer nor Steve Walsh knows which will get the call.

Dolphins

Quarterback Dan McGwire won the No. 3 job with Miami when the team waived Doug Pederson, who had been with the Dolphins off and on since 1991.

Packers

Jay Barker, who quarterbacked Alabama to more victories than any player in Tide history, was cut by Green Bay. Barker was 35-2-1 as a starter in his career at Alabama, including 12-1 last year.

Bills

Buffalo released nine players and announced that wide receiver Bucky Brooks would likely be traded before the deadline when teams must reduce rosters to 60 players.

Falcons

Atlanta signed offensive lineman Jim Ritcher, placed veteran receiver Leonard Harris on injured reserve and cut former Georgia quarterback Preston Jones as they pared their roster to 60. Ritcher, a 16-year veteran and two-time Pro Bowler, played 14 seasons with Buffalo before signing with the Falcons last year. Harris broke his hand against Cleveland on Saturday night.