Sunday, October 10, 2010
Updated: October 11, 1:15 PM ET
Cowboys bench Leonard Davis in loss
By Tim MacMahon
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Dallas Cowboys right guard Leonard Davis, who was selected to the past three Pro Bowls and is the highest-paid offensive lineman in franchise history, is in danger of losing his starting job after being benched during Sunday's loss.
Backup Montrae Holland replaced Davis late in the first half of the 34-27 loss to the Tennessee Titans. Davis allowed two sacks to Titans defensive tackle Jason Jones to cause the coaching staff to bench him.
"When they pulled me out, I wasn't upset at them," said Davis, who is in the fourth season of a seven-year, $49.6 million contract that included a $16 million signing bonus. "It was nothing personal. I was frustrated with myself about it. It happened. They put Montrae in and he did a great job when he was in there. You can't ask for anything more."
The Cowboys scored only three points before Davis was benched. They allowed five sacks in their first four possessions.
The two sacks allowed by Davis were key plays in stalled drives. The first came on a third-and-10 from the Tennessee 40 on the Cowboys' first possession. The second was a 9-yard loss on first down from the Tennessee 34, triggering a series of negative plays that led to a Cowboys punt.
"Leonard early in the ballgame was having a hard time with some of their inside pass rush," offensive coordinator Jason Garrett said. "We just felt at that time it was the right thing to do to give Montrae a chance to do that. He did a good job. He went in there and kind of stabilized it. Then, when Leonard had a chance to come back in, he played much better. I think it was the right thing to do, and both guys handled it well."
Davis returned for the final play of the third quarter and played the remainder of the game because of an injury to Holland. Holland was hit in the face when he blocked a Tennessee linebacker, opening a gash on his nose that required four stitches and caused his right eye to swell nearly shut.
"When I put my helmet on I couldn't really see to my right," said Holland, who has 49 career starts. "I didn't want to put the team in a handicap, so we came to a decision."
The Cowboys had long touchdown drives on the first two series that Holland played. The other two that he played resulted in a missed field goal and an interception in the red zone.
The 6-foot-6, 355-pound Davis said he felt like this was one poor performance and not a trend, but the Cowboys have been concerned about his play since last season, especially against quick opponents.
Davis, who is due to make $6 million over each of the next three seasons plus another $2.6 million in roster bonuses, acknowledged that he feels like he's fighting to keep his job.
"We just have to evaluate the tape and make those decisions tomorrow after we look at it," Garrett said.
Tim MacMahon covers the Cowboys for ESPN Dallas. You can follow him on Twitter or leave a question for his weekly mailbag.