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Since its Labor Day, it's a good day to talk about a couple of players who work hard in the trenches on defense. We've got a couple of youngsters who are set to become long-term cornerstones of this defense. Working on the corners of the line are two players from last year's draft, Marcus Spears and Chris Canty.

In last year's draft, the Cowboys got lucky. They held their breath for nine picks after taking DeMarcus Ware at No. 11, hoping Marcus Spears would still be there.

He was.

Then, on the second day of the draft, they hoped Chris Canty wouldn't slide off the board early in the fourth round. When Canty was there at No. 132, the Cowboys sent two draft picks to Philadelphia and took him.

We may look back in a few years and think that was one of the best drafts we could've had for our defense. Spears, Canty, and DeMarcus Ware all have the potential to turn Dallas' defense into a perennial powerhouse. Maybe Kevin Burnett, also taken in that draft, will stay healthy and make his way into that group.

In the 3-4, the ends are required to stand their ground on the line and make sure nothing gets through the tackle box.

"It's critical for us to make the plays we're supposed to make," Spears said. "Anytime it's in the middle of the line, that's pretty much us. Me, [Jason Ferguson] or Chris, those are the plays we've got to get stopped immediately."

Right on Marcus. Canty already knew this coming out of college since he played in Parcells protégé Al Groh's 3-4 defense.

Said Spears: "Canty could coach this defense, he knows it so well."

Canty needed to bulk up a little from his college weight, and he's done that to come in at a solid 300 lbs.
Canty said he believes he has the strength to be a more of a factor this season and, in the preseason finale against Minnesota, he showed he hasn't lost quickness by hitting the hole and dropping a Vikings running back for a loss.

Chris Canty showed Minnesota's Chester Taylor that his newfound bulk did not come at the expense of his quickness.

"I've gained 15, 20 pounds," he said. "I played last year at 280, 285, and now I'm 300. It feels different. I notice with double-teams it's a little harder to move me."

The DFW S-T also decided to focus in on the defense today. How do you know when a lot is expected out of your defense? When you get statements like this:

This week the first-team defense will try to regain its edge after giving up its first preseason touchdown.

Horrors. They gave up a TD! But that's how it is now with the Cowboys defense, we expect them to completely shut down the opposing offense. I admit, I was as shocked as anybody when they gave up that TD to Minnesota. I was flabbergasted that Henry and Newman gave up big plays.

Some other flaws in the defense from that game:

"We didn't tackle very well in the secondary or the linebackers either," coach Bill Parcells said. "Now, we didn't lose the game."

The Cowboys had some glaring flaws against the Vikings. Minnesota blistered Dallas on third-down conversions, going 4-for-6 in the first half, and the Cowboys' starters did not produce a sack or turnover.

Rest easy my friends. Dallas played the most basic of defensive schemes the whole preseason. And still the first unit only gave up 10 points. Wait until we unleash our arsenal of blitzes and stunts, it will seem like Doomsday all over again.