Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Cornerback depth will increase
By Calvin Watkins
ARLINGTON -- The Dallas Cowboys opened the the 2010 season short on depth in the defensive backfield.
Terence Newman, Mike Jenkins and Orlando Scandrick were the only cornerbacks on the roster. The Cowboys released cornerback Cletis Gordon at the end of training camp in what was a slight surprise.
Don't expect the Cowboys to start the 2011 campaign with only three cornerbacks.
Bryan McCann was a free-agent pickup in September who was signed to the practice squad and eventually moved to the active roster in November.
Cowboys senior executive vice president Stephen Jones said the team won't be thin at corner this season. In addition to McCann and the three veterans, Jones said there's a possibility Alan Ball, who was drafted as a cornerback but moved to safety, will return to the cornerback position.
"As we sit here, we're going to have everybody back," Stephen Jones said. "McCann played well for us and made some big plays during the year for us. We're looking at putting Ball back at corner, so we got five corners there that have all played in games and played well to some degree."
The secondary struggled last season. Jenkins and Newman, who reached the Pro Bowl in 2009, were nowhere near that level last season. Newman battled some injuries, yet finished second on the team with 14 pass breakups and tied with safety Gerald Sensabaugh with five interceptions.
Jenkins led the team with 15 pass breakups but had just one interception, and at times didn't play as physical as the team would have liked. New defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, while not signaling out any player, said he wants his defensive players to play with courage.
Jones believes Jenkins and Newman can bounce back from their poor 2010.
"We feel good about it, and you take their full body of work over their careers," Jones said. "Obviously Jenkins' is much shorter, but he's played good football. Rob has taken a long hard look at him and he feels very comfortable with them. ... And obviously he asks his corners to do things a little differently from what Wade [Phillips] wanted the corners to do and buying into what his system is and gaining a little confidence. We have a lot of comfort they can come back and be very productive."