The DeMarcus Ware Show
Playing opposite DeMarcus Ware, Cowboys linebacker Anthony Spencer is tied for 21st in quarterback knockdowns (5) and hurries (3) with eight. He has 17 tackles, three sacks, six pressures and two forced fumbles. He has given up two receptions for 39 yards and a touchdown, according to STATS, Inc.
“He is having an impact on our defense as a run defender and pass rusher, providing quarterback pressure and making plays in the game that impact the game,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. “DeMarcus Ware and some of the other guys in the front seven are getting a lot of attention and rightfully so. When you have a guy like Spencer playing as well as he has the first four weeks of the season, that makes it hard on opposing offenses. He has to keep it going, and there’s no reason to think that he won’t.”
Spencer’s impact was most felt during the game against Washington. He had a sack/fumble of Rex Grossman with 28 seconds remaining, with linebacker Sean Lee’s recovery icing the Cowboys’ 18-16 victory.
“Whenever I get a sack – it just happened to be at the end of the game – it does something for your confidence,” Spencer said. “…There’s always stuff you could get better at. There’s always going be that. But I am playing pretty well right now.”
IRVING, Texas — First off, let the Eagles slide a little on the “Dream Team” nickname. That was an off-hand comment by backup quarterback Vince Young, whom they hoped wouldn’t have to play all season long. It’s not like Jeffrey Lurie hung a banner outside the team complex.
Still, Philly has hardly been a dream team. The chic pick for the Super Bowl, they’re 1-4 and searching for answers after yet another loss on the road.
Just last year the Cowboys were in the exact same position: 1-3, visiting Minnesota to try to stay in the early playoff race. They dropped to 1-4, Tony Romo got hurt the following week and things completely unraveled.
Hearing and reading the same buzz words about the Eagles this year: “Penalties, turnovers, self-inflicted.”
Michael Vick’s interception to Bills middle linebacker Nick Barnett, one of five total turnovers, was downright eerie. Remember Romo’s pick to E.J. Henderson after a protection breakdown? Almost the same play.
How about this quote from Eagles tight end Brent Celek: “I’ve never been a part of anything where you feel like things are snowballing on you. You feel like when you’re in the game, things just continually feel like they’re not falling your way. But that’s up to us, we can turn it around.”
Wow. Makes you wonder if they’ve reach a point of no return. They’re certainly better than what they’ve shown.
The Eagles are learning all about the pressure of high, maybe even unfair, expectations. Just ask the Cowboys what the feeling’s like.
IRVING — For the first time since the season started the Cowboys could have a healthy secondary with Mike Jenkins, Terence Newman and Orlando Scandrick all playing at cornerback for the game at New England.
Miles Austin and Dez Bryant are also back from health issues.
So, after a bye week, the Cowboys appear as healthy as they’ve been.
“Well, it feels good,” coach Jason Garrett said. “You guys have heard me say this before, injuries are a part of the National Football League in 32 cities across this league. We just have to understand that. We did a good job of battling through some of the injuries — the individual players fighting through it themselves but also the backup players trying to take advantage of their opportunities. Having said all that, it’s better to have the guys, your starters, back out there practicing and moving towards playing in the game on Sunday.”
IRVING — With the return of Orlando Scandrick from a high ankle sprain the Cowboys should have all their cornerbacks healthy for the first time all season when they visit the New England Patriots on Sunday.
Scandrick started the season opener with Mike Jenkins while Terence Newman recovered from a groin strain.
After Scandrick got hurt in the season opener, Alan Ball replaced him in Week 2. Newman made his debut from injury and started the last two weeks.
Should the Cowboys go back to Scandrick and Jenkins with the first-team or Newman and Jenkins?
“As we go forward we’ll evaluate that situation,” Jason Garrett said after Monday’s practice. “We feel good about the number of corners that we have, starting type players and also guys who haven’t been starting but been playing a lot.”
The Cowboys could open the game with three corners against the New England Patriots on Sunday if they see a three-receiver set.
Overall, the cornerbacks have played well considering the wide receivers the Cowboys have faced: Santonio Holmes, Plaxico Burress, Calvin Johnson and Santana Moss.
The longest pass the Cowboys have allowed was 36 yards, only one other team has allowed a shorter pass. Dallas has also allowed just seven touchdowns.
Adding veteran Frank Walker to the staff, when the team let go Bryan McCann, has also helped the Cowboys corners play better.
“A lot of these guys have gotten experience over the first four games, so to have that number back there at such a critical position, I think is a really significant thing four our team right now,” Garrett said. “We’ll just evaluate what they’re roles are going to be as the week goes on.”
IRVING, Texas — The Cowboys welcomed several big-name players back to practice Monday, like Miles Austin and Orlando Scandrick, but their best special teams’ player of the last two years was absent.
Danny McCray suffered an ankle sprain on a punt return against Detroit and while he was able to finish that game he did not practice last week and was held out of Monday’s practice.
McCray, however, expects to play Sunday at New England.
“I’m doing my rehab,” McCray said. “I went out there today and broke a little sweat to see how it felt and it felt pretty good … I played the rest of the game with it so that was good. I can play through the pain as long as it’s something tolerable.”
McCray has 10 special teams’ tackles in four games. He led the Cowboys last year with 28 as a rookie.
The Boys Are Back bonus question: Danny McCray wears #40 – A famous Special Teams jersey number in Dallas. Who is the most famous Cowboy to wear that jersey?
IRVING – Coach Jason Garrett has taken the next step in his quest to make the Cowboys a better situational football team.
On Monday, the Cowboys practiced for the first time with scoreboards in place at Valley Ranch.
Previously when Garrett has put the Cowboys in a game-like situation, such as a tie game with a minute left, he’s had assistant equipment manager Bucky Buchanan use a stop watch in practice.
The Cowboys ordered scoreboards and Garrett said Monday that they “finally got in and so we put them up over the bye week.”
The scoreboards are in place between the two practice fields at each end. On Monday, the scoreboard was lit up with this situation: game tied at 24-24 with 59.2 seconds left in the fourth quarter.
That’s interesting considering the Cowboys lost their season opener at the Jets, 27-24, before winning the next week at San Francisco, 27-24, in overtime.
“We just feel like what we’re trying to do as coaches is simulate the game as much as we can in all parts of our practice, our regular team work or our situational work at the end of practice,” Garrett said. “We’ve tried to do that from the start of training camp. We think it’s valuable in recreating and simulating a game when you have that scoreboard. You have the time that everybody can see, and you understand what the situation is as concretely as possible.”
There will be no easing back into the lineup for Cowboys nickel cornerback Orlando Scandrick who will play against the Patriots for the first since suffering a sprained ankle in season opener.
As the slot cornerback, Scandrick will get heavy-duty on Patriots Pro Bowl slot receiver Wes Welker who has 40 catches for 616 and five touchdowns. Welker is on pace to shatter the NFL record for yards and catches.
“I knew I was going to get Wes Welker my first game back from the time I got hurt, so it is what it is,” Scandrick said. “It’s a huge challenge. He’s a worker. He does everything 100 percent, full speed. He works. Him and Brady have a great relationship. They know what each other is going to do. It’s a huge challenge. They said today he’s on pace for 2,600 yards or something crazy, but going into this game, I’m going to make him work. We’re going to see what happens. It’s going to be a great challenge.”
As far as his health is concerned, Scandrick said he feels great and is ready to go. He said his conditioning is fine and hopes to pick up where he left off before the injury. He was the team’s best cornerback in training camp and was considered a threat to unseat Newman as the starter at left cornerback. Because of the Patriots heavy reliance on the pass, Newman and Scandrick will play a ton on Sunday.
Coach Jason Garrett said they will continue to evaluate their roles.
“We feel good about the number of corners that we have, starting type players and also guys who haven’t been starting but been playing a lot,” Garrett said. “A lot of these guys have gotten experience over the first four games so, to have that number back there at such a critical position, I think is a really significant thing for our team right now. We’ll just evaluate what they’re roles are going to be as the week goes on. ”
RELATED: Dallas Cowboy CB Scandrick doing his homework on Wes Welker
Like most players on their bye week, Orlando Scandrick used the extra time off to go back home, visiting family and friends in Los Angeles.
But Scandrick wasn’t empty handed. He had a self-assigned homework project. That was to study tape on Patriots receiver Wes Welker, who is having a sensational season through five games and will likely be matched up with Scandrick often in Sunday’s game in Foxboro.
“I took it home with me to LA. I studied it on the plane with me,” Scandrick said. “I woke up early and I studied.”
And what did he realize about Welker and his Patriots teammates?
“It’s a huge challenge. He’s a worker. He does everything 100 percent full speed,” Scandrick said of Welker, who leads the NFL with 45 catches, 13 ahead of three players tied for second at 32 receptions. “He and Brady have a great relationship and know what each other is going to do. Its’ a huge challenge. I’m going into this game; I’m going to make him work. It’s going to be a great challenge.”
And even more so for Scandrick, who returned to practice on Monday for the first time since suffering a high-ankle sprain in the season opener against the Jets. Scandrick said he was able to stay in good condition despite spending more than a week in a walking boot.
“I probably lifted more weights than I would’ve just playing football,” Scandrick said. “The (strength coaches / athletic trainers) did a great job of rehabbing me while I was out.”
And although Scandrick discussed an earlier return, he figured all along his first game back on the field would be against the Patriots and Welker.
While it’s likely defensive coordinator Rob Ryan will have something unique planned for the Patriots this week, it’s inevitable Scandrick will face Welker, likely in the slot.
Fortunately for the Cowboys this will be the first game this year to have the top three cornerbacks on the field at once. Terence Newman missed the opener with a groin injury and Scandrick went down in the first quarter with the ankle injury. Mike Jenkins has also been banged up throughout the first four games with neck, shoulder and knee injuries.
“It feels great to be out there with Terence and Mike,” Scandrick said. “We all have something to prove and want to be one of the pass defenses in the league. We’re excited. We’ve got a chance to show people what we can do.”
This is a new segment on The Boys Are Back … nicknames and terminology. I’ll begin with the short list … hope you’ll add comments with your suggestions. This is a parody … but, please help me keep it somewhere in the Rated-G to Rated-R range!
Diamond Dez: Dez Bryant
Romeo: Tony Romo when he’s playing well
Homo: Tony Romo when he’s playing bad
Romosexual: Randy Galloway’s description of being a Tony Romo fan
Tony the Tiger: When Tony Romo’s Grrrrrrrrrreat
Romo Coaster: When Romo is up and down with his performance.
Clutch: Jason Witten (usually clutch, when we need a first down)
Holleywood: James Holley
Harry (Hairy) Harris: Dwayne Harris
BeWARE: DeMarcus Ware
EVERY WARE: DeMarcus Ware (because Rob Ryan moves him all over the DL)
Felix Jones’n: When you’re in the mood for some Pro-Bowl running back talk
Jerry Jones’n: When you’re ready for some Dallas Cowboys football … usually hits around Wednesday.
Carrot Garrett: Reference to Jason Garrett’s red hair
Assassin: David Buehler (got the reputation as a hitter in his early kickoff days on the special teams)
Smiles Austin: Miles Austin (has a very toothy smile)
Miles Away Austin: Miles Austin (when he’s wide open and pops the defense)
Alan’s Ball: Alan Ball, when he intercepts or forces a fumble
JJ, JG, and RR: Jerry Jones, Jason Garrett, and Rob Ryan … commonly used on TBAB
Terence Oldman or T-Oldman: Terence Newman
Tear ’em a New-one: Terence Newman
Doug Nothin’s Free: Doug Free (punishes DLmen)
Doug Freeway: Doug Tree (opens a fast lane for the running backs)
Makes Sense ‘enball, Gerald Sense the Ball, or G-Spot: Gerald Sensabaugh
Billy-the-kid Nagy: Bill Nagy
Snagy Nagy: When Bill Nagy gets a holding call
Tire ’em Smith: Tyron Smith (wears out DLmen … makes them tired)
Retire ’em Smith: Tyron Smith
Juke ’em Jenkins: Mike Jenkins
The Bradie Bunch: The LB corp, led by 9-year veteran Bradie James
The Preacher, The Minister of Defense: Safety Barry Church
24-7 Defense: Rob Ryan’s defense (they never quit)
7-Eleven Defense: Rob Ryan’s defense when they’re in and out (get a turnover); Score 7 with our 11
NON-DALLAS COWBOY nicknames:
T-Boner or T-Bone: Tim Tebow (can be used when he’s hungry for a play … or when he makes a bone-head mistake)
Robert Andrew Luck: Stanford’s standout QB … future 1st round NFL draft pick
Rottenburger: PIT ‘Big Boy’ QB Ben Roethlisberger
McNasty: MIN’s ‘Dream Teamless’ QB Donovan McNabb
That’s about it. I hope to add to this list. If you want to participate, add a comment. Originally published on: Sep 26, 2011 @ 9:15
The bye week is over. The Boys Are Back to work. A LOOK AT THE COWBOYS’ REMAINING SCHEDULE — Tony Romo and the Cowboys fought through a rocky first month, and with 12 games to play, they find themselves in the thick of the race for the NFC East. Here, we take a look at the remaining games on the Cowboys’ 2011 schedule. Photo: TOM FOX / Staff Photographer
Week 6: @New England (4-1) – Rob Ryan’s defense has performed admirably in the early going, but you can bet that Tom Brady is unimpressed. The Patriots’ offense has blasted through opponents this season, averaging the most yards (507.5) and third-most points (33.8) per game in the NFL so far. But the Dallas Cowboys have a little hope in the form of the Pats’ stumbling defense. Bill Belichick’s squad is allowing a league-high 368.8 passing yards per game and has held only one opponent, the Oakland Raiders, under 20 points. Photo: LM OTERO / AP The Boys Are Back
Week 7: St. Louis (0-4) – Just a year removed from a resurgent 7-9 season, the Rams have already found themselves back in the cellar of the NFC. Granted, St. Louis’ winless start is due at least in part to a brutal early schedule, but the games haven’t even been close – their average loss margin is close to 17 points per game. With sophomore quarterback Sam Bradford (affectionately known as Sammy the Rammy on The Boys Are Back blog) sputtering and stud running back Steven Jackson fighting through injuries, this is a must-win for the Dallas Cowboys. Not because the club can’t recover from a loss here, but because the Rams are exactly the type of team that playoff contenders should pummel. Photo: DILIP VISHWANAT / Getty Images
Week 8: @Philadelphia (1-4) – An Eagle defense that was supposedly bolstered by some high-profile acquisitions has faltered early, allowing nearly 140 rushing yards per game and sitting the near the bottom of the league in points allowed. Still, between Michael Vick, LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin, Philly has enough playmakers to make for a dangerous foe. One thing’s for sure: when the Dallas Cowboys play at Lincoln Financial Field, they either win little (four wins by an average of 6.75 points), or lose big (four losses by an average of 20.75). Let’s hope The Boys Are Back to the winning ways of the past! Photo: G.J. McCARTHY / Staff Photographer
Week 9: Seattle (2-3) – Pete Carroll has his team hover around .500 for the second straight year, but the best thing you can say about this Seahawks squad to this point in that they own a mediocre defense. With one 200-yard passing game to his name this season, Tarvaris Jackson is little more than a caretaker quarterback, assuming he’s even healthy enough to play. The ground game ranks dead last in the NFC. They’re -2 in the turnover battle. Were it not for the ineptitude of Arizona in Week 3, or a five-turnover implosion by the Giants in Week 5, Seattle could realistically be looking at an 0-5 start. Photo: TED S. WARREN / AP The Boys Are Back blog
Week 10: Buffalo (4-1) – Considering Buffalo has had exactly one winning season since 2000, many Dallas Cowboy fans had this one penciled in as a W before the season started. But the upstart Bills have been the surprise team of 2011, sitting a second-half collapse in CINcity away from a perfect 5-0 record. Surprisingly, Rob Ryan’s defense could have its hands full – the Buffalo rushing attack, anchored by Fred Jackson, has pounded opponents for nearly 140 yards per game, while journeyman quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick is on pace to throw for 32 touchdowns and nearly 4,000 yards this season. Photo: RICK STEWART / Getty Images The Boys Are Back to beating Buffalo?
Week 11: @Washington (3-1) – Washington Redskins fans had high hopes after new QB Rex Grossman torched the New York Giants for 305 yards and 2 TDs in Week 1. But the Skins have put together a pair of unimpressive wins against cellar-dwelling Arizona and St. Louis since, while losing to a Dallas Cowboys team that couldn’t even get the ball into the end zone. For his part, Grossman has returned to his turnover-prone ways, giving the ball away six times in Washington’s last three contests while posting a QB rating of 68.8. As its schedule toughens over the season’s final three months, Washington figures to see its record dip back below .500. Photo: LOUIS DeLUCA / Staff Photographer The Boys Are Back blog
Week 12: Miami (0-4) – With starting quarterback Chad Henne done for the season, the Miami Dolphins seem like a prime candidate to pack it in and play for draft position. But after two straight 7-9 seasons, head coach Tony Sparano will be fighting for his job, so the Dallas Cowboys can bet they’ll see everything the Miami Dolphins have to offer. Still, it’s a Miami roster that’s woefully short on talent, sporting Brandon Marshall as its only tried-and-true threat on offense. Add in the fact that Sparano’s defense is currently one of the worst units in football – allowing 26 points and more than 414 yards per game – and this is a matchup that certainly favors Dallas. Photo: WILFREDO LEE / AP The Boys Are Back blog
Week 13: @Arizona (1-4) – After a Week 1 win against lowly Carolina, things have gone downhill quickly for Arizona. The Cardinals lost in consecutive weeks to the Washington Redskins, Seahawks, New York Giants, and Vikings, and things don’t figure to get much better with games against Pittsburgh, Baltimore, and San Francisco looming. New QB Kevin Kolb has accounted for just one touchdown and turned it over seven times in his last three games. Factor in the Dallas Cowboys’ perennial ownership over the Arizona Cardinals – they lead the all-time series 55-29-1 – and Dallas has a big edge. Photo: TED S. WARREN / AP The-Boys-Are-Back blog
Week 14: New York Giants (3-2) – After early stumbles by Philadelphia and Dallas Cowboys, the NFC East opened wide for Eli Manning and New York. But the New York Giants haven’t taken advantage so far, suffering disappointing losses to Washington Redskins and Seattle. Still, the G-men have owned the Dallas Cowboys in recent years, posting a 5-2 record since the calendar flipped to 2008, including a 3-1 mark in Dallas. Whether or not the Dallas Cowboys can flip that script could depend on how well Tony Romo protects the ball: the Giants have a +4 turnover margin in wins, and a -2 margin in losses. Photo: TOM FOX / Staff Photographer The Boys Are Back blog
Week 15: @Tampa Bay (3-2) – Armed with a promising young backfield that featured Josh Freeman and LeGarrette Blount, the Bucs won 10 games in 2010, narrowly missing out on the playoffs by virtue of a tiebreaker with the Packers and New York Giants. They seemed poised for more of the same this year after accruing three early wins, but the fact that their victories have come against opponents with a combined record of 3-12 are reason to tap the brakes. And the only two winning teams they’ve played – Detroit and San Francisco – have both walked away with relatively easy wins. Photo: MIKE EHRMANN / Getty Images The Boys Are Back blog
Week 16: Philadelphia (1-4) – The last time the Dallas Cowboys beat the Eagles in December, Troy Aikman was still their quarterback. Dallas is 0-7 in Christmastime contests against Philly ever since, scoring an average of 9 points per game, an ominous sign for their Dec. 24 matchup this year. But there is one notable difference from years past. The Eagles were a combined 74-37-1 overall in those seven seasons. This year? Not so much. If the Dallas Cowboys want to make it out with a win, they’ll need to take advantage of Philadelphia Eagle’s propensity for coughing up the ball – the Eagles’ -10 turnover margin is easily the worst mark in the NFC. Photo: TOM FOX / Staff Photographer The Boys Are Back blog
Week 17: @ New York Giants (3-2) – The Dallas Cowboys cap the year with a New Year’s Day game against the rival New York Giants, who hope to snap a two-year playoff drought. This one figures to be more of the same from the teams’ Week 14 matchup, with the one notable difference being a change in venue. But playing in New York hasn’t fazed the Dallas Cowboys too much in recent years, as Dallas owns a 3-2 record in the Big Apple since Tony Romo took over. Whether Romo can notch win number four will likely depend on his ability to complete passes to his teammates – and his teammates only. Photo: LOUIS DeLUCA / Staff Photographer The Boys Are Back – Dallas Cowboys blog
Source: Dallas Morning News
Edited by: The Boys Are Back – A blog for TRUE BLUE Dallas Cowboy fans!
Through the first five weeks of the NFL season, it’s hard to figure anything out in this league. One thing seems pretty clear, however.
The NFC East is up for grabs. It’s up for grabs right now and it’ll likely stay that way all year long.
Yeah, the Redskins are winning it right now. I think all Cowboys fans will agree that Washington doesn’t scare anyone. They’re 3-1 with wins over the Giants, Cardinals and Rams. The road will get tougher for them for sure. And an undermanned and banged up Cowboys team already beat them once.
The Giants? Who knows what team you’ll get there, but what they showed Sunday against the Seahawks was downright horrific. They had no business even being in that game having turned it over five times at home against a Seattle team that lost its starting quarterback (although I’m not sure that wasn’t a good thing.). Still, the Seahawks tried to give it back and the Giants wanted no part of it. With that, they fall to 3-2.
Like they’ve been the last few years, the Giants are up-and-down, with the ability to beat any team in the league on any field, and also lose to any team as well. The Cowboys are no different and that’s why this division race is going to be interesting.
And then you’ve got the Eagles? What? The Dream Team is seriously 1-4? Well, I don’t know what’s going on with that team, but I know this, they scare me more than anyone else. I’ve seen Andy Reid’s teams struggle early in the year and somehow they find a way to get it turned around. If anything else, they’ll bring their best against the Cowboys so to me, the Eagles are far from out of anything.
Usually what happens in this division is that everyone will beat each other up. I expect that to happen again this year, which likely means the division winner in 2011 will be the only representative in the playoffs. Yeah, I know it’s very, very early to be talking about all of that. Anything can happen and there’s a good chance it will happen.
But what we know right now is that no one from the NFC East looks too formidable. They’re all beatable and when that happens, it’ll be up for grabs all year.
So for the Cowboys, who sit at 2-2, still with the sourest of sour tastes after that blown lead against the Lions, winning the division is not only obtainable, but should be somewhat expected.
It might not be a bad division at the end of the year, but it’s a bad one right now. Like we saw last year with the NFC West . . . somebody has to win it.
It seems the Cowboys have gotten healthy during the bye week. They returned to practice Monday morning with almost everyone on the practice field, including starting receivers Miles Austin (hamstring) and Dez Bryant (thigh).
Defensive end Jason Hatcher (calf), safety Danny McCray (ankle) and guard Derrick Dockery (tibia/knee) are not practicing. Fullback Tony Fiammetta (hamstring) and kicker David Buehler (groin) were on the practice field but did not appear ready to do much.
Cornerback Orlando Scandrick (ankle), safety Gerald Sensabaugh (concussion) and safety Barry Church (shoulder) were back at practice. Scandrick had been out since the season opener when he suffered a high-ankle sprain.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Hank Williams Jr. is about to have his say.
Williams’ has cut a new song “I’ll Keep My …,” calling out “Fox & Friends” and ESPN after an interview last week on the Fox News talk show led to the end of his association with the sports network and “Monday Night Football,” long home to his “Are you ready for some football?” theme.
He’s also scheduled to appear on “The View” and “Hannity” on Tuesday to discuss the uproar that sprung up after he made an analogy that President Barack Obama and House Speaker Rep. John Boehner golfing together was like Nazi leader Adolph Hitler and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu playing a round.
ESPN decided to pull Williams’ intro from last Monday’s “MNF” telecast after the comments and the move became permanent Thursday when both sides said they’d decided to pull the spot.
Williams wrote the topical third verse of “I’ll Keep My …” when he woke up Friday morning and he and a group of players laid it down in a Nashville studio by Friday afternoon. It could be on iTunes late Monday or early Tuesday.
In the song Williams, son of country music icon Hank Williams, says “Fox & Friends” hosts twisted his words: “So Fox `n Friends wanna put me down/Ask for my opinion/Twist it all around.” He finishes the verse: “Well two can play that gotcha game you’ll see.”
Early in the song, he says the U.S. is “going down the drain” and says it’s becoming “The United Socialist States of America.” He mentions keeping “Fox & Friends” and ESPN out of your home toward the end of the song.
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press
The Boys Are Back comment: If I can get a link to the new song, I will post it. Look for an ‘update’ tag to the title, if that happens.
The Boys Are Back! Barring any setbacks from his ankle injury, Dallas Cowboys nickel cornerback Orlando Scandrick is expected to practice this week.
“I’m good to go,” he told reporters in Irving last week after missing three games.
Scandrick’s return is noteworthy because it elevates the secondary to full strength for the first time this season. That’s big for the Cowboys, who face the daunting task of trying to beat the Tom Brady-led New England Patriots next weekend in Foxborough, Mass.
While the Cowboys (2-2) enjoyed a day off Sunday, the Patriots (4-1) retained a share of the AFC East lead with a 30-21 win over the New York Jets.
Dallas, which trails idle Washington (3-1) in the NFC East, entered Week 5 possessing the league’s fourth-ranked defense and the 15th-ranked pass defense, yielding 230.0 yards per game. New England came in with the top offense and the No. 1 passing attack, averaging 384.8 yards.
Facing the Jets’ eighth-ranked defense, Brady finished 24 of 33 for 321 yards with one touchdown and one interception as the Patriots scored at least 30 points for the 13th straight game, the second-longest streak in NFL history. Texas Tech alum Wes Welker had five catches for 124 yards, raising his NFL-high season totals to 45 and 740, and BenJarvus Green-Ellis rushed 27 times for 136 yards and two TDs.
It was the 19th straight regular-season win at home for the Patriots, but the Cowboys will enter the game with an optimistic outlook partly because they are getting healthier. In addition to Scandrick, the Cowboys are set to welcome back receiver Miles Austin, who missed the last two games with a hamstring injury.
“I’m excited about the challenge to come back and play against Wes Welker (in the slot),” Scandrick said. “It’s an extreme challenge, and I’m looking forward to it.”
Scandrick’s return strengthens a defense that got cornerback Terence Newman back on Sept. 26 after he missed the first two games with a groin injury. The bye week also allowed cornerback Mike Jenkins to recover from a variety of nagging injuries.
“It’s frustrating,” Scandrick said of watching his teammates soldier on without him. “Those guys did a good job.”
The defense turned in a strong performance early against the Lions last week, but three interceptions thrown by Tony Romo allowed Detroit to overcome a 24-point deficit to rally for a 34-30 win.
“That (Detroit) game was tough to stomach and watch unfold,” Scandrick said.
Another reason for the defense to have confidence against New England: Coordinator Rob Ryan coached the Cleveland defense last season that held Brady to 224 yards on 19-of-36 accuracy. The Browns won 34-14 after they allowed the Patriots to convert only 3 of 11 third-down attempts.