Will Cowboys use 4-3 alignment on defense?

October, 25, 2012
10/25/12
9:00
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IRVING, Texas -- There were plenty of questions Wednesday afternoon about the Cowboys' possibly going to a 4-3 defensive alignment for the game against the New York Giants on Sunday.

The Cowboys didn't practice the 4-3 on Wednesday and didn't use the alignment in last week's victory over the Carolina Panthers. But the Cowboys have used the 4-3 setup this season, most recently against Baltimore.

"I think that’s something they’ll evaluate," defensive end Marcus Spears said of the coaches. "We’ve been a multifaceted defense since the beginning of the year, so guys have to prepare for 3-4 and 4-3. For us, that’s the way we’ve been playing up to this point and I don’t think that will change much."

Playing a base 4-3, something the Cowboys haven't done since the early years of the Bill Parcells era, isn't something that's going to happen full-time. However, the Cowboys don't run a traditional 3-4 and use multiple fronts to confuse offenses.

If the Cowboys went with a 4-3, a potential lineup would be DEs Jason Hatcher and Kenyon Coleman with Josh Brent and Jay Ratliff at tackle. Expect DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer to remain the outside linebackers with Bruce Carter the middle linebacker.

This takes into account the season-ending injury to inside linebacker Sean Lee and another injury to DE Sean Lissemore, who could miss a few weeks. With Lee out, the Cowboys have a traditional 4-3 inside linebacker in Dan Connor, who is taking his place. On passing downs in the 3-4, Connor comes off the field.

"For us, it just helps takes the target off our back," Brent said of using a 4-3. "People can’t scheme us cause they don’t know what we’re going to be in. It helps us overall as a defensive unit that the front can play multiple."
Calvin Watkins joined ESPNDallas.com in September 2009. He's covered the Cowboys since 2006 and also has covered colleges, boxing and high school sports.

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