Sunday, November 13, 2011
Terence Newman can still get job done
By Calvin Watkins ESPNDallas.com
ARLINGTON, Texas -- There was a scene during Dallas Cowboys training camp where defensive coordinator Rob Ryan was on the phone being a salesman.
Owner/general manager Jerry Jones and son Stephen, the team's director of player personnel, were giving each other fist pumps.
It seemed the Cowboys had signed talented free-agent cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha with the assumption he would replace veteran Terence Newman.
Asomugha, however, wound up spurning the Cowboys' offer and signing with the Philadelphia Eagles instead.
Terence Newman got an attaboy from defensive coordinator Rob Ryan after returning an interception for a touchdown in the fourth quarter.
It's looking like that was a good thing for Dallas.
With seven weeks remaining in the season, Asomugha has three interceptions for the floundering Eagles. Newman, meanwhile, has a team-high four, including two Sunday in the surging Cowboys' win over the Buffalo Bills.
It was a nice little scene when Newman picked off his second pass of the day and raced 43 yards down the sideline to push the Cowboys' lead to a 44-7, the final margin.
After getting to the end zone, Newman gave a fan the thumbs up sign and the crowd went crazy.
Newman has returned three interceptions for touchdowns in his career and has four games with multiple picks.
Things are good in Newman's world right now. He refused to answer questions from reporters who wanted his thoughts on the victory and how well he's playing. He just said "God is good" and left others to speak for him.
Cornerback Mike Jenkins: "He's 33 years old. Terence is up there in age and he's playing like he's 20, like he's with us. You have to give him props for that."
Secondary coach Dave Campo: "He feels good. He's been banged up, since I've been here, almost every year. We feel pretty good about our corners right now. Even with Jenkins out, we feel good. We're rotating him a little bit and when he comes out he doesn't feel [tired]. He's an older guy and I think he's feeling really good and I think he's playing well."
Ryan: "He's fantastic. He's working his tail off in practice. So he's getting better each game and he's playing at his Pro Bowl level, so that's what we expect when we had him and he feels great."
Newman isn't considered a shutdown corner, like Charles Woodson, Darrelle Revis and Asomugha. Newman is a good corner, but not elite, with two Pro Bowl appearances on his résumé.
Injuries have often been an issue for him. He missed the first two games of the season with a groin injury. But at this stage of the year, you can see how healthy he is.
He's breaking on the ball faster and he's got that vertical leap going when he challenges passes.
Against the Detroit Lions, he body slammed Calvin Johnson in the end zone after a touchdown reception. He's not the strongest corner in the world, but Newman is attacking receivers physically because he doesn't have any nagging injuries to deal with.
"He took a couple of licks out there today and stayed out there," Jerry Jones said. "And by staying out there he made big plays."
Jones is the man who approves all the moves around here, and back in the summer he tried his best to get Asomugha. It wouldn't have meant the end of the world for Newman if Asomugha was obtained. Jones said Newman, Asomugha, Jenkins and Orlando Scandrick would all play corner for the Cowboys.
"You take it personal," Jenkins said of players being brought in at the same position. "At the end of the day it is a business but at the same time you want your guys to have faith in you.
"You were handpicked by [the team]. Each one of us in here was handpicked by them. They want to bring another guy in, of course, that's going to bring a little heat to the table, but at the same time it's a business and you got to know how to play with it and deal with it."
Newman dealt with it as professionally as possible.
On Sunday, Newman's two picks were another example of just how good of a player he is for this team. While he didn't talk afterward, his play said it all.
Calvin Watkins covers the Cowboys for ESPNDallas.com.