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Terence Newman's days in Dallas numbered?

12/31/2011

IRVING, Texas -- When you think of the core group of Cowboys players who have gone through just about everything the last few years, cornerback Terence Newman is one name that stands out.

He was Bill Parcells' first draft choice in 2003 out of Kansas State and, while not considered an elite corner or one who just snatches passes away from offenses, Newman has been one constant in the defense.

Newman's days with the Cowboys could be coming to an end with Sunday's win-or-go-home contest at the New York Giants looming. The corner has one more year remaining on his contract and he was almost replaced this summer until the Cowboys' pursuit of Nnamdi Asomugha was overtaken by the Philadelphia Eagles.

Newman is tied for the team lead with four interceptions this season and has a team-high 10 pass breakups. Yet, the outsider would say Newman is struggling this year, as evidenced by numerous receivers catching passes in front of and behind him.

Newman has one pass breakup the last four weeks.

Newman didn't want to discuss his play, but one NFC personnel executive called him a "good cover guy, but not a pure ball hawk for interceptions."

Pro Football Focus grades NFL players on every snap and the website says Newman has allowed just two touchdowns this season. But he's also given up 41 catches for 623 yards on 69 attempted throws.

"I think he's playing solid," safety Abram Elam said of Newman. "It's not just one guy, it's a team. I don't think we put one person on a guy and say beat him. It's a group."

This is the first time in his career that Newman has played in a complex defense. Wade Phillips' defensive scheme was more man-to-man, very simple. But under Rob Ryan, the Cowboys ask their corners to play man, zone, blitz and communicate more to help each other. Newman has said in the past he likes the scheme.

Newman was targeted a season-high 10 times by Eli Manning in the first meeting against the Giants and allowed four receptions for a 16.5 average, prompting coach Jason Garrett to be asked if Newman could be benched for the rematch.

Garrett said no.

"I think we're always trying to refine our techniques," Garrett said. "As players, every week, you're trying to get better from a technique standpoint, from a scheme standpoint, from a situational football standpoint. I think that applies to everybody. We're always working on those things."

Sunday night Newman might be playing for the final time in a Cowboys uniform. He's seen just about everything here, from Tony Romo's fumbled hold, to the loss to the Giants in the 2007 divisional round, to the 44-6 loss at Philadelphia to end the 2008 season, as well as the Pacman Jones and Terrell Owens sagas in the locker room.

The future says maybe Orlando Scandrick and Mike Jenkins take over as starters in 2012, with a draft pick becoming the nickle corner.

For now, Newman remains.