Position series: Cowboys cornerbacks

June, 22, 2012
6/22/12
6:02
PM ET
Today's team-by-team look at the cornerback position in the NFC East wraps up with a check on the revamped secondary of the Dallas Cowboys.

Projected starters: Brandon Carr, Morris Claiborne

Reserves: Mike Jenkins, Orlando Scandrick, Mario Butler, C.J. Wilson, Lionel Smith

[+] EnlargeMike Jenkins
Jeff Fishbein/Icon SMIMike Jenkins is upset about his move to a backup role.
Potential strength: Sometimes change for change's sake can be a good thing, and that's the Cowboys' hope this year. Terence Newman was a major liability last season, and while Jenkins played well when healthy, he really almost never was. So they went out on the free-agent market and signed Carr, and then they used their first-round and second-round picks to move up and select Claiborne, the best cornerback in this year's draft. That pushes a grumpy Jenkins into a backup role and leaves Scandrick where he belongs, at the nickel corner spot. Assuming Claiborne plays the way he played in college right away in the pros, the Cowboys have transformed cornerback from an a significant weakness to a possible strength.

Potential weakness: Well, Jenkins doesn't seem overly motivated, now does he? He's refused the team's requests to spend any non-mandatory time at the team facility this offseason so they could help him rehab his shoulder. He's asked for a new contract, bristled at the backup role into which he's been forced, and demanded a trade that the team has no intention of making. He's behind in that shoulder rehab, and at this point the Cowboys have no idea whether they'll be able to count on Jenkins at the start of the season. And sure, you can say they're fine because of Carr and Claiborne. But Claiborne's a rookie who has yet to practice as he continues his recovery from wrist surgery, and part of the plan to overhaul cornerback involved having depth at the position. Jenkins needs to be healthy and have his mind right, or else they won't be as strong at cornerback as they need and intend to be.

Keep an eye on: Smith. An undrafted long shot, for sure, but he's got 4.44 40-yard-dash speed and could open some eyes in training camp. He'll have to make the team with his special teams play, but a guy with that kind of speed at that position could be helpful down the road if he develops.

Dan Graziano

ESPN New York Giants reporter

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