Cowboys' secondary about to get better

September, 10, 2012
9/10/12
2:26
PM ET
Among the many revelations from the Dallas Cowboys' season-opening victory over the New York Giants last week was the secondary -- specifically, the man coverage ability shown by starting cornerbacks Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne against the Giants' excellent wide receivers. The Cowboys themselves aren't surprised. This was the plan, after all. They spent a lot of money on Carr in free agency and paid a high cost in the draft for Claiborne with the idea that they could build a defense around their ability to lock down receivers. Nevertheless, it's always nice to see evidence that your plan just might work.

Another part of that plan was to keep 2011 starting cornerback Mike Jenkins for depth behind the new starters. Jenkins didn't like this part of the plan and made that clear. But no matter how much he pouted, asked for a trade or stalled his return from shoulder surgery, the Cowboys remained steadfast in their publicly stated belief that they had a job for Jenkins to do this year and would not send him away.

As Calvin Watkins writes, it appears Jenkins could return to the playing field for Sunday's game in Seattle. And while he's the No. 3 or 4 cornerback at this point, he's not a luxury. People get hurt in this league. Offenses put any number of wide receivers and tight ends on the field at a time these days. Jenkins was a good cornerback for the Cowboys when he was healthy last year, and the ability to augment their defensive backs corps with a guy who's had success as an NFL starter is no small thing. The Cowboys were right all along to hold onto Jenkins, and it now appears he's realized the best way for him to get the new contract he wants -- from them or, more likely, from someone else -- is to play hard in whatever time he gets to spend on the field this year. Good news for Dallas. As good as its secondary was in Week 1, it looks as though it could be even better starting in Week 2.

Dan Graziano

ESPN New York Giants reporter

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