Last year, the Cowboys decided to roll the dice at the corner spot and took the curious - and arguably dangerous - decision to keep only three corners on their 53-man roster. The argument at the time was that could be moved to corner in a pinch. In week nine the Cowboys fixed the situation by calling up preseason sensation - just in time to allow him to make game changing plays against the and the following two weeks.
In an interview with Mickey Spagnola from the mothership, secondary coach Dave Campo said the Cowboys are looking keep five or six corners on the roster in an obvious attempt to avoid a similar situation this year. Campo was also pretty clear about what the depth chart at corner currently looks like, talked about how the rookies have to compete for roster spots with a "sense of urgency" and the importance of special teams play in making the team.
Full transcript of the interview after the break or watch the full interview here.
Q: You told me an interesting story the other day about how you explained to your cornerbacks how difficult it just might be to make this ball club.
Campo: There's got to be a sense of urgency in camp. A lot of times the guys come in and think, "Okay, I'm going to learn from the veterans and the younger guys, we've got time here", normally we have OTAs, sometimes you have that extra time to get ready. We don't have them this year.
So I wanted to make sure that I explained to them the urgency at camp. And the way I did it is I lined up our three veteran corners, our starters, Scandrick, Newman and Jenkins in one spot. Then I put Alan Ball and Brian McCann, our two veteran guys that have been backups, in a little area. And then I put the four young corners all together in a little pile.
And I said, the three guys over here, the starters, if I'm a betting man there's a pretty good chance they're going to make the football team. Now these two right here, they're veterans, but they're fighting in both directions. They're trying to unseat a guy that's a starter.
BUT. These four over here, they're fighting with them to make sure that they make the football team. And the four guys all together, the little young guys?
There's only five spots. Or possibly six if one of them gets lucky and does a good job and forces us to keep six. So those four guys are looking, "Wait a minute. That's three ... and two ...that's five! I've got to unseat somebody to make this football team." And that's the urgency that happens when you only have four weeks to get ready for a ball game.
Q: Do you think it sunk in with the young guys that they'd better not miss a step?
Campo: I think it sunk in, because they know now that they have to compete every single day. It's not just about what they do in the game, although the game is more important. They've got to do it in practice, in meetings and they've got to know what they're doing.
Q: Tell me how the young guys have performed heading into the first preseason game and what you think of their performance in the preseason game.
Campo: We've got four guys that are good looking, young players. Weaver and Randle and Mario Butler and JT Thomas. Those guys have all done a nice job in practice. In the ballgame, I saw a little bit of competition out there, I saw some competition from each of those guys.
I would say that the guy that probably stuck out of that group was JT Thomas. He's a guy that has great athletic ability, but he's got to make sure he knows what he's doing all the time. And there are some strengths for each of those guys that give them the chance to make the team.
Q: Does Alan Ball have any more of an advantage since he's a swing guy? He played safety for you last year, he's back at cornerback now. You know him. In a pinch he could do both?
Campo: I think that is a factor, because you look for role-players on your football team. You're always looking for who can do different things under different circumstances. So that gives him an advantage, but again: he's still primarily a corner now and he has to make the team as a guy that can come in and play - and he has done that before, so he definitely has an advantage.
Q: Do you have a feel for when Terence Newman might get back?
Campo: He feels pretty good as far as I can see, but again, I'm no medical doctor. He tells me that in his mind he's going to be ready for that first ballgame. [...]Time will tell on that one. I think we just have to get ready to have our ability to do whatever we have to do based on what happens.
Q: That gives some other guys the chance to get some more snaps.
Campo: This is the best that could have happened for the young guys. I personally would have preferred to have those guys [Newman & Jenkins] practicing every snap, because with the new scheme and with every thing that's evolved we certainly want to make sure that we're ready to go.
But it does give us an opportunity to evaluate. And these young guys have a chance to make the football team. What they do on defense, mixed with special teams, is what's going to make the difference.
Q: Special teams for those guys are going to be real important.
Campo: No question. I'm always politicking a little bit with Joe [DeCamillis], "What do you think of this guys, what do you think of that guy?" because I want to put a little bit of pride into them too: "Hey, you're doing a great job out here, you're tackling great, but you've got to show it on special teams."
Because there's only five guys, maybe six. I don't know. But they have to have that urgency to know that every time they do something, it makes a difference.