FRISCO, Texas – Defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli believes in a deep defensive line rotation, a constant shuffle of fresh players pressuring the quarterback.
After injuries depleted Marinelli's rotation in training camp, he finally got most of the group back healthy for Week 1. Seven linemen were active last Sunday against the Giants, and linebacker Kyle Wilber pitched in snaps, too.
Maybe lack of preseason continuity was a factor, but Marinelli needs more from his 'four-equals-one' rush. Giants quarterback Eli Manning was sacked twice, but too often – particularly early in the game – he was too comfortable in the pocket in the Cowboys' 20-19 loss.
"Not good enough, obviously," Marinelli said Thursday. "We had our spurt in there for a little bit and I think we'll learn off of that. But it's not good enough.
"We started a little bit and then we got in a lull. You've just got to go one snap at a time."
Three Week 1 starters – defensive end Benson Mayowa and defensive tackles Tyrone Crawford and Terrell McClain – missed preseason practice and game time. Rookie Maliek Collins also appeared in only one preseason game as he recovered from offseason foot surgery.
Just as communication is critical for the five offensive line starters, the defensive line could have used more time on the field together in preseason.
"That, and maybe just a lack of preseason game work and pad work," Marinelli said. "Now some of these guys, you've just got to work them through it. That's the first real heavy work that they've done, and now all of a sudden you get camp legs a little bit. That's where the rotation hopefully helps us. And now we've just got to grind through that, that part of the game."
Head coach Jason Garrett said rookie defensive end Charles Tapper is making progress with a back injury that has sidelined him for the last month. This week the Cowboys signed defensive end Ryan Davis, a three-year veteran with 11 career sacks, but it's uncertain if he'll be active Sunday against the Washington Redskins.