Veterans take part in high number of snaps

September, 18, 2010
9/18/10
1:55
PM ET
Veteran inside linebacker Keith Brooking was chilling on a couch in the middle of the locker room Friday afternoon eating a sandwich.

When he was told he played every defensive snap against Washington -- 56 live plays -- Brooking replied, "What's the big deal? I've done this my whole career."

Here's the issue regarding Brooking. He's coming off minor offseason knee surgery, suffered a sore joint in his shoulder during the preseason and turns 35 on Oct. 30.

"Am I old?," Brooking asked the other day.

Told that he was by a reporter, Brooking rolled his eyes and said, "I feel as good as ever."

Cowboys coach Wade Phillips agrees but is caught in a tough situation because he can't get Sean Lee on the field due to his slow development in pass coverage. Lee will miss Sunday's home opener against the Chicago Bears with a hamstring injury.

Jason Williams, last year's third-round pick, has struggled in pass coverage, so the Cowboys don't trust him to get Brooking off the field.

Brooking wasn't alone in his high snap count. Bradie James, 29, played every snap and Terence Newman, 32, played 55 defensive snaps.

According to Pro Football Focus, Brooking, James and Anthony Spencer were credtied with playing 61 snaps, which also includes penalties, timeouts and kneel downs.

Alan Ball and Newman played 60 snaps while Mike Jenkins (57) and DeMarcus Ware (54) were over the 50 mark. Ware missed the last four minutes of the game with a sprained neck.

Phillips said he doesn't want to wear down his veterans or his younger players but felt several of his players, especially Brooking and James, were fresh and he didn't want to pull them out of the game.
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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