DallasCowboys.com Staff Writer
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Cowboys Not Taking SF Defense Lightly Despite Key Losses
IRVING, Texas – The Cowboys aren’t the only team entering the season without key players.
San Francisco will be without two star defenders in Aldon Smith and NaVorro Bowman, but the Cowboys’ offensive players aren’t going to take the vaunted 49ers’ defense lightly.
“Regardless of whoever’s on the field for the 49ers, they’re going to come to play,” Bryant said. “You can tell they play with a mentality. Seeing that on film, we have to be prepared for anything. We’re not going in there thinking just because they don’t have certain players, we feel that we can let up on our end. We’ve got to go out there and give them their respect and be highly prepared.”
Smith’s suspended for nine games, while Bowman’s still recovering from tearing his ACL and MCL in the playoffs last season. Smith’s one of the best pass rushers in the game, with 8.5 sacks in 11 games last year and 19.5 sacks in 2012. Bowman’s one of the most feared linebackers in the NFL, leading the San Francisco defense each of the last three seasons with at least 130 combined tackles each year.
Those losses are sizable, but DeMarco Murray believes the San Francisco defense as a whole is still formidable.
“We know they have a lot of guys,” Murray said. “Great defense, great offense. Whoever they put in, it’s next guy up. I’m sure he’ll be just as good as those guys. We’re preparing just like anyone else. We’ve got a lot of respect for those guys. We’re not worried about who’s playing, who’s not. That’s out of our control.”
It’s likely Dan Skuta will replace Smith, while Michael Wilhoite will replace Bowman. Skuta started eight games for the 49ers last year, while Wilhoite started two. They only have a combined half a sack to their careers, but head coach Jason Garrett has seen promise from both players on tape.
“They’re good football players,” Garrett said. “Each of those guys you can tell loves to play football. They’re physical players and they’ve stepped into those roles they’ve been asked to step into. They’ve done a really nice job for them. It doesn’t seem like they’ve skipped a beat at all.”
Without Bowman and Smith, the 49ers don’t have the firepower they’re used to. But Tony Romo still said there’s no good time to see that defense.
“No one player makes that defense,” Romo said. “They’re a collection of outstanding individual talent with a very good scheme that can create issues with the way that they’re doing things. I expect them to double Dez Bryant and come out there and do some things that give you trouble. We’re going to have to prepare for that and be ready.”