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Friday, June 6, 2014
Orlando Scandrick becomes the leader

By Calvin Watkins

Orlando Scandrick has been one of the better cornerbacks on the Dallas Cowboys' roster the last few seasons.

Morris Claiborne, the Cowboys' 2012 first-round pick, has been inconsistent. Brandon Carr, the veteran corner with the high-priced salary, hasn't made enough plays.

That leaves Scandrick, who emerged as a starter over Claiborne and turned himself into more than a slot corner. His ability to play in the slot and outside and cover the opponent's best receiver makes him a valuable member of the secondary.

"I'm trying to get a little better. I'm a veteran player and I just need to get better," he said. "I don't feel like I've reached my ceiling yet. I've just got to continue to get better and I need to focus on making the plays that I can make. Start watching the tape in the offseason, and I can think of games where I dropped interceptions -- Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphia -- these are plays where I've got to make the play."

Scandrick doesn't have the best hands on the team -- he had just two interceptions in 2013. He had 12 pass breakups and allowed four touchdowns but according to Stats Inc. was burned 50 times -- tied for 14th in the league and second on the team to Carr, who was beaten 62 times.

One of the main things the Cowboys' defensive coaches have preached the last two seasons is snagging the ball. Turnovers have become a point of contention around Valley Ranch because -- well, let's be honest -- they're a rarity with the team.

During practices, whether it's an organized team activity, training camp or minicamp, you hear coaches yelling at defensive players to create a turnover by snatching the ball out of a receiver's or running back's hand, trying to scoop up a fumble or pick the ball off.

"Just focusing on catching the ball and looking the ball in," Scandrick said. "When you catch it, you've got to see it into the pocket. And those were some of my issues last year. I was catching the ball and turning my head. But I'm just trying to come out here every day and stay positive and just be humble."

With Sean Lee (four interceptions in 2013) out for the season with a torn ACL, more pressure is placed on players like Scandrick to create turnovers in a pass-happy league.

Leadership is also lost with Lee on the sidelines. This is where Scandrick comes in.

"It's a lot, it's humbling," Scandrick said of losing Lee. "I feel like with Sean, I look around, [and] out of all these faces, I've been here the longest. The onus is kind of on myself. I gotta just work every day. Leadership ain't all about screaming and hollering. You can get anybody who can scream and holler and tell you what they've done and what the accolades are ... . I put it on myself to try and figure out a way to motivate and motivate our defense and motivate our secondary and motivate our corners. Losing Sean Lee was a tough pill to swallow."