IRVING -- Sean Lee, the top player on the team last week, was removed from the list after having season-ending toe surgery, but high-profile players such as Morris Claiborne and Jay Ratliff make their debuts in the rankings, the result of yet another strong defensive effort.
Each week, during the season, I rank my top 10 players on the roster based on their performances this season.
1. DeMarcus Ware: A sack, a tackle for loss and a quarterback pressure to go with three tackles. It wasn’t a dominant performance, but it was effective.
Last Week: 2
2. Anthony Spencer: He turned in his usual solid job against the run and finished with five tackles. Spencer also delivered a pressure that resulted in an incompletion.
Last Week: 3
3. Miles Austin: He continues to be the Cowboys most consistent big-play receiver with 10 receptions of 20 yards or more. He had nine catches for 133 yards, his second 100-yard game of the season.
Last Week: 4
4. Jason Witten: Set a franchise record with 18 receptions for 167 yards against the Giants, which means he’s fully recovered from his lacerated spleen. Did I mention Witten didn’t catch a pass in the first quarter?
Last Week: 6
5. Bruce Carter: Without Seam Lee, Carter is calling the defensive signals and making adjustments. He’s also a three-down linebacker because of his ability to cover. Carter had four tackles, one for loss.
Last Week: 8
6. DeMarco Murray: The Cowboys hope he can play Sunday against undefeated Atlanta, although Jason Garrett has been adamant about not rushing him back.
Last Week: 5
7. Brandon Carr: The Cowboys used him in press coverage most of the game against the Giants and he responded with a big game, finishing with five tackles and a key pass deflection. Why he ever plays off is a mystery.
Last Week: 9
8. Morris Claiborne: The first-round pick, universally considered the best defensive player in the draft, is clearly getting better as he adjusts to the NFL. He’s playing with more confidence and making plays. He’s had an interception and a fumble recovery and two pass deflections in the last two games.
Last Week: NR
9. Jay Ratliff: After missing virtually all of training camp and the first four games with a foot issue and a high-ankle sprain, Ratliff is rounding into shape. He’s made an impact the past two weeks and clearly tried to fill the leadership void with Sean Lee out for the season.
Last Week: NR
10. Tony Romo: He was awful early, when the Cowboys fell behind 23-0. And spectacular when Dallas rallied to take a 24-23 lead. He almost led a miracle comeback and a season-defining victory, but Dez Bryant had parts of two fingers out of bounds on the apparent winning touchdown. He’s a good quarterback having a bad season and he needs to turn it around.
Last Week: 7