FRISCO, Texas – The Cowboys made clear on draft weekend that Orlando Scandrick wasn't going anywhere. They strongly refuted rumors that the veteran cornerback was on the trade block.
That's good, because Scandrick doesn't want to be anywhere else – and he's looking forward to playing at the level he'd grown accustomed to before he tore the ACL and MCL in his right knee two Augusts ago.
"I feel fantastic. I'm all in. Happy to be here," Scandrick said Tuesday after the Cowboys completed their first practice of mandatory minicamp. "It's the only place I know. I've never been in another locker room. I don't want to go in another locker room. I want to finish this thing out here and win a championship."
Scandrick, 30, is entering his 10th NFL season. He's the longest-tenured player on the Cowboys' defense. With Tony Romo and Doug Free gone, only two players have more time on the roster: Jason Witten and L.P. Ladouceur.
Scandrick had to scratch for a roster spot as a fifth-round pick back in 2008. With Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne departing in free agency, he's facing new competition.
In late April, the Cowboys drafted two cornerbacks (Chidobe Awuzie, Jourdan Lewis) in the first three rounds and a third cornerback (Marquez White) in the sixth round.
Does new blood build extra motivation? Of course. But Scandrick says he's focused on his own play, not who's over his shoulder.
"I've refocused this offseason and I accept the challenge of the new guys coming in," he said. "Like I told them, I'm not going to give anybody my job and I'm going to come work every day. I want to be back to where I was, and until I'm back to where I was and I'm doing it Sunday after Sunday after Sunday, I'm going to keep striving. And then when I get back to where I was, I'm going to reach for higher."
He's better equipped to meet that challenge this year. The knee injury cost Scandrick the entire 2015 season. Last year, just as he was working his way back, he had to fight through hamstring and foot injuries that limited him to 12 games.
"Last year was a grind," he said. "I'd never been through an injury. I'd been fairly healthy and then to come back from a major knee surgery and then deal with a soft-tissue injury and then deal with a foot injury, it was a lot. But that's behind me. That all made me stronger.
"The mental aspect of it is the part that takes the longest because you've got to trust yourself. I'm very comfortable with my feet. I'm very comfortable just making all the movements that I need to make."
Scandrick's experience and versatility remains an asset to the secondary. He has been a starter on the outside, and he's able to move into the slot in nickel situations.[embeddedad0]
Here in June, the cornerback rotation is unsettled with the rookies and veterans such as Scandrick, Nolan Carroll and Anthony Brown. Training camp and preseason will sort things out.
Right now, Scandrick is enjoying being healthy and getting better.
"I want to challenge all throws," he said. "I'm very disappointed in myself when I give up catches. I hold myself to a higher standard than anybody around here could hold me to, than anybody in the media can hold me to. I'm going to continue to work and be the best that I can be."