The day after Orlando Scandrick injured his knee in practice, the news continued to circulate. So, let's start there:
This made it official. An MRI confirmed that Scandrick has torn both his MCL and ACL, effectively ending his 2015 season. In addition to the news, Helman shares some insight on what happened on the play in question:
The ball found Whitehead, who quickly went to ground with the catch – hitting Scandrick’s knee in the process.
"I’d seen him come off the route at the last minute," Whitehead said. "As a receiver I thought he was going to hit me, so I tried to get down before I got hit. It was just unfortunate that he got hurt."
Archer always seems to come up with some research that nobody else does. Here, he unearths a unique medical tidbit:
Because of the tear of the medial collateral ligament, the surgery needs to be done quickly to help with the healing process. Had it just been an anterior cruciate ligament tear, the surgery would have been delayed for a while to allow Scandrick to build up strength in his quadriceps to help in the rehab process.
Fish weighs with what will be missed with Scandrick out:
Scandrick has elevated himself to the Cowboys best corner, rising from being exclusive to the slot to also manning the outside in two-CB sets opposite Brandon Carr. Scandrick went the entire 2015 season without giving up a touchdown, on 69 targets (per Pro Football Focus). His NFL Passer Rating against was a mere 84.0 while giving up just 1.08 yards per reception, good for 19th in the league. He recorded 55 tackles and had a sack to go along with two interceptions in 2014. His play has improved steadily over the course of his seven seasons.
In another article, Fish brings up Number 32's least replaceable trait: Number 32 is a fighter (and a grump) that gave this defense the chippy attitude they played with in 2014:
More immediately? They need to force themselves to turn the page — a real challenge given their collective admiration for the "dawg’’ that is Scandrick and given their reliance on him as a talent.
The looming question is: how will the Cowboys replace Scandrick?
Archer points out that the defense had to move on without Sean Lee last season, and did so in fine fashion. This year will be different, but in a better way:
"Well, I think the biggest thing with last year was that when Sean was out we felt like there was somewhat a need to go outside the organization to get somebody," coach Jason Garrett said....
"We feel good about the guys we have on the team right now, that’s not to say we won’t go get a cornerback for depth or whatever to just fill out that number, but we like what Patmon does, we like what Corey White does, obviously we like Mo, we like Brandon Carr, we like Byron Jones. There’s a lot of guys who can vie for these snaps. Orlando has been a really good player for us, he brings a lot to our team, we’re certainly going to miss him, but we do have to move on as a team."
Next man up!
In the wake of Scandrick's injury, Cowboys' defensive backs coach Jerome Henderson espoused the "next man up" philosophy. That man would be Mo Claiborne:
"I don't think we'll miss a beat. We hate to lose, if we do lose a player like that for the season, we hate to do that, but we won't miss a beat. We'll plug the next guy in. Again, we like our depth at that position. Again, our depth is going to be tested. So we'll see."
Questions and answers from Babe's weekly Wednesday chat. Here, he's asked about the team's confidence level in Mo Claiborne:
They are probably more confident than the average Cowboy fan, which is certainly damning with faint praise. It remains to be seen if he can really play. The biggest thing for Claiborne to find is his confidence. That is line one, as the head coach would like to say. And he has no reason to be confident. He is in his 4th year and has clearly not lived up to expectations. Granted, he has not been healthy from the moment he got here, but this is his year to show he belongs.
Next man up, part deux. The first point is that Tyler Patmon will step into the slot in nickle packages. The next is this:
Henderson also made it clear all of the dime coverage packages the defense has been working on in this training camp - the secondary rarely used dime packages last season - will continue. "Won’t effect it at all,’’ Henderson said. "Again, it’s next man up. Keep moving forward with our plans, what we planned to be, what we planned to do. We lost a heck of a player. We’ve got to put another guy in there and keep moving.’’
Tiny Jim (his friends call him Teej) crafts a little piece on Scandrick's replacement in the slot, fellow by the name of Patmon:
"He’s done a good job for us," said defensive backs coach Jerome Henderson on Tuesday night. "And, like O, has those unique awareness instincts inside – that he feels the game, that he sees the game from a different perspective. Now he’ll get an opportunity to go out and see how he holds up in there."
Scandrick's replacement seems to be cut from the same cloth:
"Coming on this team, it was me and Orlando who had the most similarities out of anybody else, any corners on the team,’’ said Patmon, the former Oklahoma State corner who enters his second year with the Cowboys. "I definitely watched him a lot last year, watched him a lot this year and learned a lot from him of how to play in there.
"We’re both fighters, definitely. Orlando is one of the best leaders on our team, especially when it comes to that fire, that attitude. He’s always ready to play and give his all.’’
Michael offers a handful of salient observations from Oxnard. Here's one that I think can't be remarked upon too many times:
Though the defensive backs have struggled at times, they have been pretty solid thus far in camp and it's carried over to the preseason. Corey White comes to mind as especially impressive. He's a big corner that can cover from just about anywhere on the field. In both exhibition contests, White has played very well and has helped the team become the preseason's best pass defense. Of course, it's only preseason but that should help build confidence heading into the regular season.
The Cowboys roster, argues the Goose, has something new that will help them survive the loss of a Pro Bowl caliber defender:
It’s called depth.
And after more than a decade playing with a wafer-thin roster because of poor drafting, poor personnel decisions and a lack of trust in youth, the Cowboys suddenly have players on their bench who could be starting elsewhere. And players on the waiver wire these next two weeks who will be claimed.
Some writers suggest its not just the other CBs who are capable of taking up the slack in Scandrick's absence:
The Broad one with his daily 12-fer from practice, in his usual [sic]tacular fashion:
I finally saw a big day from Greg Hardy at practice on Tuesday. As good as he has been helping others find their way to the quarterback, he was getting their [sic] on his own. His pass rush appeared more in line to what [sic] I had scouted when he was with the Panthers. His technique was outstanding and his effort was relentless. In the blitz period, he was able to knock a pass down that would have been a sure catch by Cole Beasley on a slant. Hardy was able to beat Travis Frederick up the field and with perfect timing put his hand up to make the play.
Archer's daily post-practice report. I liked reading this, even if it was against the Cowboys' O-line:
For the second straight day the first-team defense got the best of the first-team offense. At one point Romo was sacked on three straight snaps. Right guard Zack Martin was the only starting offensive linemen not to take part in practice. Nick Hayden, DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory had would-be sacks of Romo.
The Estimable Ryle reminds us that pass defense is not only about the secondary:
One of the biggest stories out of camp is the quality and depth of rushmen the team has, and it looks like the defensive backs will not have nearly as long to have to cover receivers while players like DeMarcus Lawrence, Randy Gregory, Tyrone Crawford and eventually Greg Hardy are harassing the quarterback...
The other big news concerned previews of the soon-to-be-released Rolling Stone cover story on Dez Bryant:
We've been suggesting around these parts that much of the bad news about Dez Bryant (a certain tape, perhaps?) was being "leaked" by his disgruntled former advisor, David Wells. Well, we now have a clearer idea why he's a "former" advisor:
According to a review of Bryant's finances by an accounting firm he hired last February, between $700,000 and $900,000 of Bryant’s money went to Wells or unidentified accounts. This included $377,000 paid to Wells or companies owned by him (part of which was the $17,000 monthly payments), an estimated $85,000 went to insure six cars not in Bryant’s name, at least one of which belonged to Wells, and checks made out to Bryant that his financial team still hasn’t been able to locate.
More early info from the Rolling Stone cover story on Dez Bryant. Here's a juicy tidbit about the early contract negotiations with the Cowboys:
The Cowboys offered Bryant a nine-year, $90 million contract with just $12 million guaranteed, according to the story. He eventually received a five-year deal worth $70 million, including $45 million guaranteed. The Cowboys, the story says, thought Bryant was broke and would cave. Said Bryant, who threatened to sit out the start of the season, "I came from nothing and got no problem going back there. Mr. (Jerry) Jones thinks he knows me, but he don't know (expletive)."
Apparently Geoff Swaim has been playing chick to Jason Witten's mother hen, following him around the barnyard. And the future Hall of Famer has shared the good knowledge:
"I can’t really pinpoint one thing, but it’s stuff like you’re studying a guy and he’s a power guy, so you’d want to take this footwork or that footwork or running routes, just kind of when you can muscle a guy and when you want to finesse a guy," Swaim said. "Stuff like that I never thought about because I never had to do it when I was at Texas. Just the keys to the game that sometimes a coach can’t give you because he’s not out there actually running the plays and he’s not playing against those guys Witten plays against every day. He has that knowledge that you can’t really have unless you play."
Anthony Hitchens is out of his walking boot but will not resume practicing until the preseason is over, Moore reports:
He’s walking without a limp but won’t practice these final two days in Oxnard. Hitchens said Wednesday it’s unlikely he’ll be cleared to practice the following week, meaning the earliest he’ll return is the week leading up to the regular season opener against the New York Giants on Sept. 13
Ummm, should we be concerned about this?
Am I the only one who thinks this is awesome?
This offseason, Barry Church spent time learning every spot on the Cowboys defense:
"Last year I felt comfortable in my leadership role but I only felt comfortable telling the secondary what to do," Church said. "I wanted to become comfortable telling the linebackers, 'Hey, you should be here,' or the defensive linemen, 'You have to boss over there.' I made it a responsibility for myself to go in there and learn every position. Not the safety position or corner. I wanted to know every position so I can help the defense out."
Sturm, in the midst of his yearly analysis of the special teams units, looks at the Cowboys punt coverage unit, and comes up with the following sobering factoids:
Here is a not-so-fun-fact about the Cowboys special teams. Since 1998, they have had 10 punts blocked and have only blocked 3 of their opponents. You don’t want to be minus-7 in that category because you are absolutely giving games away. Can you name the 3 punts the Cowboys have had blocked in regular season games during the Jason Garrett era?
P.S.: They always seem to happen early in the year (all three occurred in the first six games).
Moore shares some thoughts about Oxnard 2015's final days. All of them are good; this is by far the best:
Head coach Jason Garrett made it clear these final days of training camp will be no day at the beach for the Cowboys. Literally. The beach excursion players and coaches have enjoyed the past four years under Garrett has been scrapped in the wake of the team’s 23-6 loss to San Francisco. That’s not the message Garrett believes his players need as camp winds down. That was obvious in Tuesday’s afternoon practice when all players on the active roster (except for Rolando McClain) were at practice in pads even if injuries kept them from performing.
You gotta earn your day at the beach, fellas...