Orlando Scandrick hasn’t exactly been the jolliest of Cowboys players over his nine-year career. This is the same Scandrick that knows exactly what he is and what he’s not. When he saw that he was playing to the level of the best cornerback the Cowboys had, he made sure that he was properly compensated. There’s nothing wrong with knowing your value and asking to be paid as such. Scandrick is not just aware of how he plays the game but you can bet he knows how everyone plays the game at this point.
Before the 2016 Draft, Scandrick was asked if the Cowboys need to add another cornerback. He didn’t deny that a talented cornerback would help but he made sure he mentioned that the Cowboys’ “better not be thinking of Vernon Hargreaves, that dude is smaller than me.” That’s Orlando Scandrick, he doesn’t mince words, he tells you how he feels. He’s always been that type of player and it’s actually one of his most endearing qualities.
There is that old football cliche of “playing with a chip on your shoulder” but that phrase doesn’t begin to describe what Scandrick plays with. Teammate Anthony Brown recently got an image of a Ruffles potato chip tattooed on his shoulder and I would imagine something like that makes Scandrick smile. Orlando is the epitome of a salty player and has been throughout his career but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
This is the guy that left Boise State after his junior year to declare for the NFL Draft. In that junior season, he stepped in for a young secondary needing leadership. He immediately took over calling the defensive signals and improved Boise State from the 45th passing defense in the country to the 26th...in one season...sans their best player (Gerald Alexander).
Scandrick is probably one of the most aware players in the league. He forgives but he never forgets just as he will never forget where he was drafted at 143rd overall (fifth round) to the Dallas Cowboys. There is not one player on the defense that has seen more years in this league than Scandrick and he’s only 30 years old. He’s always been called “small” and there have always been doubts about his abilities. Heck, I remember the day of a Blue/White Scrimmage back in 2011 when Scandrick received his first extension. This BTB community was not exactly pleased by it.
Scandrick soon proved he was worth that $28.2 million extension with $10 million in guarantees. By 2013, he surpassed the sixth overall pick Morris Claiborne and took his job, causing Claiborne to go AWOL for a day. In 2014, he had his best season as the Cowboys cruised to 12-4. Scandrick had 55 tackles, two interceptions, and a sack. His 2015 season was cut short by a torn ACL and MCL but you could see how much he missed the game by his teary-eyed acceptance speech in their annual offseason awards ceremony.
Admittedly, Scandrick hasn’t been the player we’ve been used to over the past two seasons suffering through multiple injuries. He would admit that himself and he’s been understandably frustrated. Though he only started 12 games in 2016, he had 46 tackles, two sacks, and a game-sealing interception against the Buccaneers. That’s not exactly horrible numbers.
The Cowboys decided this offseason that they were going to hit their secondary multiple times both in free agency and the draft. They carried out their plan and drafted three cornerbacks, two of which have the same skill set that Scandrick has. In Jourdan Lewis’ case, he was the country’s best nickel cornerback coming out of college. Scandrick has also shown versatility to play on the outside but so can Chidobe Awuzie (drafted 60th overall). Naturally, there were unconfirmed rumors that Scandrick was being shopped around during the draft process. Scandrick actually confirmed these rumors though no official from the Cowboys has said anything but the opposite.
Again, this is Orlando Scandrick, he sees that the Cowboys have drafted two guys in rounds two and three and probably thought he was being replaced. Where there is smoke, there is usually fire. There is no doubt that these acquisitions have lit a small fire underneath the grizzled veteran but that may be exactly what the doctor ordered.
It’s no secret some players play much better when they’re a little unsettled and Scandrick is that kind of player. He’s always had confidence but he’s at his best when he’s salty. Now that he has his health, he seems excited, but he’s also driven to prove himself again:
“I’ve refocused this offseason and I accept the challenge of the new guys coming in,” he said. “Like I told them, I’m not going to give anybody my job and I’m going to come work every day. I want to be back to where I was, and until I’m back to where I was and I’m doing it Sunday after Sunday after Sunday, I’m going to keep striving. And then when I get back to where I was, I’m going to reach for higher.”
Scandrick is far from a locker room distraction, he’s a leader in this locker room. The attitude he has makes him the feisty cornerback we’ve grown accustomed to. He’s feeling better than he has in two offseasons and he wants to be in this locker room:
“I feel fantastic. I’m all in. Happy to be here,” Scandrick said Tuesday after the Cowboys completed their first practice of mandatory minicamp. “It’s the only place I know. I’ve never been in another locker room. I don’t want to go in another locker room. I want to finish this thing out here and win a championship.”
With a guy like Scandrick, a little saltiness is a good thing for the entire roster. In fact, the young guys should adopt his attitude towards football. You can count Scandrick down and out if you like because that’s when he will bounce back and impress you. Scandrick isn’t above pulling out the stats to prove himself right and prove his doubters wrong.
Just a few seasons ago, Scandrick was called a habitual holder by then Giants’ receiver Victor Cruz. Once the dust settled on that game, Scandrick grabbed the stat sheet, “two catches, 27 yards, one fumble, recovered by me.” He added:
"I know it might have felt like it was two guys on him, or a double-team, but what I say to that is, I didn't have one penalty," Scandrick said.
That’s frankly the type of ruthless player Scandrick can be at times. However, there is nothing negative to paint with that brush. He’s a fiery competitor, aggressive, hard-working dude and that’s lead to his extended stay in the NFL. Some guys need pampering while others need to feel as though it’s always their last shot, Scandrick is the latter and that’s great for this secondary’s 2017 prospects.