IRVING, Texas -- Kevin Burnett wasn't coming back to the Dallas Cowboys to be a backup. The Cowboys punched their 2005 second-round pick's ticket out of town when they signed Keith Brooking to start next to Bradie James.
Burnett called Brooking's arrival "a slap in the face" after he signed with the San Diego Chargers. He's a starter for the Chargers, and it's safe to assume he'll have a little extra motivation Sunday, although Burnett declined to speak with San Diego reporters this week.
The Cowboys have no regrets about letting Burnett go. That's no slight to him, but his old team hasn't missed him.
Brooking has been a beast at the "Mo" inside linebacker. He also quickly emerged as one of the Cowboys' emotional leaders.
Burnett was the Cowboys' best special teams player last season, but those units have improved under Joe DeCamillis' watch. Coach Wade Phillips said Bobby Carpenter has "done a really good job" in Burnett's former role as the coverage linebacker in the nickel and dime packages.
Burnett is better off in San Diego, but the Cowboys aren't worse without him.