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Dallas Cowboys Training Camp Battles: Orlando Scandrick

In 2010, many would say that Orlando Scandrick played better than any other Cowboys cornerback. As the year went on, he kept improving on his game, putting Jason Garrett's mantra to work and getting better day by day, especially after Garrett became the interim coach. And now we can add him to the list of players excited to coached by Rob Ryan and playing in his new system. As reported by Todd Archer:

Scandrick said he loves the system new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan is implementing. 

"It allows me to put myself in a better position to make plays," Scandrick said. "It's not like this is the call, they know what's coming and you've got to play with it and I've got to out-athletic you on every play."

Sounds like he might have been referring to Wade Phillip's defense, the only other NFL defense Orlando has played in, and now he thinks he will be in a better position to make plays and opportunities to attack and surprise the offense. If I understood him right, then I happen to agree with him.

Let's take a closer look...

In 2008 and 2009, Scandrick had one sack each season and showed the ability to get around the corner on a blitz. While he is smaller than your average corner (5'10" 190ish), Scandrick has always played tough, a couple of times even injuring teammates at training camp, and he can use his stature as an advantage to hide from quarterbacks prior to blitzing. Not that he did it very often under Wade. In 2010, however, Scandrick had 2.5 sacks, and two of them came in Weeks 14 and 15 while Paul Pasqualoni had taken over the defensive coordinator duties. I expect his sack total to continue to increase in 2011.

Rob Ryan certainly makes his corners and safeties active in his blitz schemes, and already we saw Orlando Scandrick hit a quarterback. It wasn't a sack against Kyle Orton, but better coverage would have made it a devastating one, and that was only the first drive in the first preseason game. Under Ryan, it wouldn't surprise me if Scandrick was in the running for most sacks by a defensive back this season. Ryan likes doing it, Scandrick seems to excel at it when given the opportunity.

With injuries to Mike Jenkins and Terrance Newman, Orlando Scandrick has been seeing a lot of reps at camp and making the most of his opportunities. Not just blitzing either...

As Scandrick put it:

"I'm off to a very, very, very good start," Scandrick said. "I feel like I've picked up right where I left off last year and hopefully I can maintain that level of play through the 2011-12 season." 

(still as reported by Todd Archer)

In Monday's practice, Scandrick batted down three passes in team drills and unofficially allowed only two catches all day, including one "smoke" at the line of scrimmage.

    CB Orlando Scandrick had a productive day. He batted down three passes in team drills, including one intended for WR Kevin Ogletree that he almost intercepted. Later, he made acrobatic play when he jumped and deflected a deep pass from QB Tony Romo that almost landed in the hands of Bryant. Earlier in the practice, Bryant made a nice catch near the sideline with Scandrick draped over him. 

    As for the play against Kevin Ogletree, this is what McMahon at ESPNDallas tweeted from Cowboys practice.

@espn_macmahonTim MacMahon

Scandrick jumps the Ogletree comeback route and almost gets pick. "Stop holding me!" 32 yelled.

When I asked him if Ogletree was holding Scandrick during the route or as a lazy way to stop the pick (and how he was playing at camp) MacMahon had this to say.

@espn_macmahonTim MacMahon

@KegbearerBTB Hold was way to stop INT. Ogletree had good start to camp, but he's fizzled since then.

On a side note, I continue to worry about Kevin Ogletree...who should be feeling the pressure from Dwayne Harris, but that is another story for another time. I was going to make this an Orlando Scandrick vs. Kevin Ogletree training camp battle report...but unfortunately, it seems pretty one sided at the moment. 

While I am worried about Newman having a nagging injury again this season, and Jenkins returning to 2009 form, at the moment I at least am not worried about Orlando Scandrick. He looked good in the preseason game, had a good practice yesterday, and has been working hard and making plays all camp.

On Saturday, Todd Archer's practice report included this Scandrick highlight:

** CB Orlando Scandrick made a good read on a Romo throw to WR Miles Austin along the back line of the end zone, dropping off the underneath receiver to make the pick. 

Yes, it appears Orlando Scandrick is indeed "off to a very, very, very good start." And we should all be excited about his opportunities to make plays in Rob Ryan's defense. Who knows, Orlando Scandrick could be battling for a starting job if Jenkins doesn't get back to camp (much less 2009 form) quickly and if Newman's groin injury steals away a step or two. And while I don't think he will be a starter in 2011 and hope Newman and Jenkins will return to Pro Bowl form, Scandrick is the only corner I am not worried about at the moment.

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