While not elaborating on the decision Friday to keep Aikman on the bench, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones called the move a precautionary one. Aikman hasn't played since he received his ninth concussion. The latest injury came in the first half of the season opener Sept. 3.
Randall Cunningham will start Monday night at Washington, marking the first time Sanders will face his former team. The All-Pro cornerback left the Cowboys in the offseason. Cunningham was 24 of 34 passing for 243 yards and three touchdowns in a 32-31 loss at Arizona on Sunday night.
"This decision was reached after a thorough review of his daily progress throughout the week," Jones said. "Troy is feeling better, but he understands the precautionary nature of our decision. This decision has been made for this week's game only. We will proceed accordingly with further evaluation next week."
Aikman wasn't available in the Cowboys' locker room on Friday, and didn't attend practice.
His agent, Leigh Steinberg, said Aikman wanted to play but understood the medical decision.
"There needs to be some period of time after cessation of symptoms to avoid the concept of second concussion syndrome," Steinberg said. "We haven't entered that window evidently from the doctor's standpoint."
Without being specific, Steinberg indicated that Aikman was still experiencing some symptoms related to the concussion. Any symptoms would have made Aikman more susceptible to additional concussions had he played.
While he said he felt good after practicing twice this week, Aikman would not say if he still had headaches or any other lingering symptoms. This concussion came after he was sacked four times in the 41-14 loss to Philadelphia.
Aikman had said the only reason he wouldn't play was if symptoms persisted.
"This is the proper move to make at this time, and we feel it is what's best for both the short term and the long term," Jones said.
In his last 10 regular-season starts, Aikman has had three concussions. That included concussions in consecutive games midway through last season that forced him to miss two games.
Before last season, Aikman had never missed a game because of a concussion. Aikman, who will be 34 in November, is in his 12th NFL season.
After Aikman was knocked out of the NFC Championship game against San Francisco in January 1994, he didn't even remember playing in that game. A week later, he completed 19 of 27 passeas the Cowboys beat Buffalo in the Super Bowl for the second straight year.
A few concussions and several years later, more caution is being taken concerning Aikman's health and he is not the only person involved in the decision. He is treating the latest concussion differently from the others.
"That's probably partly true and I think last year is what initiated that," he said Thursday after practicing. "I think because of what took place last year is why there's extra caution."
Cunningham, 37, is in his 15th NFL season. He signed with the Cowboys after he was released by Minnesota in June to make way for Daunte Culpepper to be the starter there. He knew his role in Dallas would be to back up Aikman, not challenge for the No. 1 job.
"It's not hard because my mindset it just to be prepared," Cunningham said. "The thing is that I respect the Dallas Cowboys, I respect Troy, and there's no room for division among this team. I'm a role player, just to be prepared whenever my time comes."
©2000 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed