FRISCO, Texas –One week after they made the change, the Cowboys may once again be shuffling their secondary.
That remains to be seen for sure, as Orlando Scandrick's status is uncertain heading into Week 14. But with the veteran cornerback suffering a broken transverse process in his back, it's certainly possible the Cowboys' secondary will see another new look against the Giants on Sunday.
"He just needs to get healthier and more comfortable and that will allow him to me more functional with what we ask him to do," said Cowboys coach Jason Garrett on Monday. "It's a physical game for everybody at that position, so as much as anything else him just moving around, walking around comfortably first, then running around and being able to practice. Those will be the first hurdles that he has to overtake."
Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones added Monday that, while it's not impossible for Scandrick to play Sunday, it's not necessarily likely.
"It's probably a stretch to think that he can play, but we certainly hadn't ruled it out," Jones said.
Despite the injury, Scandrick spent a large portion of last week's game playing outside at cornerback, as the Cowboys limited Kirk Cousins to 251 passing yards and forced him into two interceptions.
A big part of that was the solid play of Chidobe Awuzie, who made three tackles and broke up three passes in his season debut on the outside. It was Awuzie's first career start and his most meaningful action in a season that has been limited by injuries, which came as an unlooked for boost for the Dallas defense.
"He did a nice job in the game. He really did. I thought he did a good job with his assignments. Did what we asked him to do," Garrett said. "Played the coverages the right way. For the most part executed his job. And then he made some plays in the game."
It was another inspiring sign for a secondary that has been learning on the fly for much of the 2017 season. Fellow rookie Jourdan Lewis has taken on a sizable role since injuries forced him onto the field at the start of the season. Lewis said following the game that putting together a solid effort against a divisional rival was a big step forward.
"It's just a confidence builder for all of us," he said. "You know, a lot of us haven't experience the NFL level at it's highest point. But it's just good to see all of us playing good football right now."
The Cowboys also have another option on the back end, after a bounce-back performance by Anthony Brown. The coaching staff demoted Brown from the starting lineup after a shaky outing against the Chargers, and Brown responded with a tackle and an interception as a role player last week.
"I thought everybody responded the right way -- the guys getting the opportunity and the guys who had some of their reps reduced," Garrett said.
They'd certainly prefer to have Scandrick available for Sunday if possible, but the Giants represent a solid opportunity for the Cowboys' corners to continue that strong run of play. Even with Eli Manning once again starting, New York is averaging just 204 passing yards per game – 22nd in the league.
With Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandon Marshall both sidelined by injury, the Giants also have just one 500-yard receiver in Sterling Shepard. Their active receivers have also combined for just four touchdowns on the season.
That's all encouraging news for the Dallas secondary. But for a unit that was already awfully young, it could look even younger heading into December.