Gameplan Could Help Defensive Performance

The Cowboys' starting defense has had its troubles over the first two weeks of the preseason, giving up 20 points on five drives, two field goals and two touchdowns, against Denver and San Diego.

That rocky start probably should have been expected given how new Rob Ryan's system is to the players, not to mention the fact that both starting cornerbacks have missed the first two games, as has Keith Brooking. Jay Ratliff was out in the exhibition opener. But the lack of experience in Ryan's system is starting to become less and less of an excuse.

This week, the Cowboys have game-planned for the first time all preseason. They've gotten a look at the Minnesota's offense from a scout team, and Ryan has narrowed his package to a select number of looks that he believes the unit can execute against the Vikings.

"The first two games our coaching staff threw a lot at us defensively, pretty much put our whole package in," Brooking said. "Anything could be called throughout the course of the game. But we treated this week more like a regular season game . . . I can definitely see us getting better this week for sure, with that game-planning going on, and guys really knowing what's coming at you.

"We're getting better. That's the main thing."

The defensive coordinator is never lacking for confidence. He believes the unit is right on schedule, which would mean a better performance against Minnesota.

"I feel great about it," Ryan said. "I know we're working hard and we're going to be great."

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