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20) Will Versatility Of DBs Be Effective In New 4-3 Scheme?

Posted Jul 1, 2013

IRVING, Texas – As the Cowboys focus on the offseason, training camp is still in sight.

Coming off two straight 8-8 seasons and three full seasons removed from the playoffs, the Cowboys have plenty of question marks surrounding them as they prepare for the 2013 season.

As we count down the days to camp, the writers of DallasCowboys.com will take a different question each day that is hovering over this team.

With 20 days until the Cowboys take the field in Oxnard, Calif., today’s question centers on the versatility of defensive backs.

20) Will Versatility Of DBs Be Effective In New 4-3 Scheme?

Last year, we saw the Cowboys use a variety of defensive back rotations – some of which because of injury and other times to simply put players in effective spots.

Brandon Carr manned the cornerback spot most of the year, but he spent some time at safety early in the year after the Cowboys lost both Barry Church and Gerald Sensabaugh to injury.

Orlando Scandrick has played primarily slot corner, but has been used as a safety in certain packages. The Cowboys also signed Sterling Moore in midseason from the Patriots’ depth chart and he immediately helped at both safety and cornerback.

In this new 4-3 scheme from Monte Kiffin, the Cowboys might have to rely on their versatile players more than ever.

Looking back in Cowboys’ history, no player excelled at both cornerback and safety better than Mel Renfro. The 10-time Pro Bowler made it five times as a safety and five times as a corner – often going back and forth later in his career. If anyone came close to excelling like that, it would be Renfro’s teammates Cornell Green, who often swapped roles with Renfro on those early Doomsday Defenses.

Obviously it’s a stretch to assume the Cowboys will have any player on this roster, or any in the future, that can be as dominant as Mel Renfro, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1996.

However, having versatility at any position is clutch, especially in the secondary. With the NFL becoming a more passing league by each year, having players with the ability to cover ground like a safety, coupled with the skills to cover in the slot is almost a lost art.

That trait alone might keep a player like Moore on the roster and actually get him activated on game day as well.

This team suffered many injuries last year so guys like Carr and Scandrick might be asked to play some safety in a pinch as well.

They don’t have to be all-world like Renfro or even Green, but just serviceable at another position can be beneficial.

Sticking with our numerical journey to training camp, let’s take a closer look at the number 20:

  • The Cowboys have picked 20th overall four different times in club history, getting Marcus Spears in 2005, Ebenezer Ekuban in 1999, Billy Joe DuPree in 1973 and Dennis Homan in 1968.
  • No player has ever worn No. 20 as long as Mel Renfro, who had it from 1964-77. Other notable players to wear No. 20 include Ron Springs, Ray Horton and Richie Anderson.
  • Roger Staubach’s 20 rushing touchdowns are the most by any Cowboys’ quarterback and ranks 11th all-time in Cowboys history.
  • Preston Pearson ranks 20th in Cowboys history with 1,207 rushing yards.
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