IRVING, Texas – Brandon Carr's strong performance on the Titans didn't go unnoticed by defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli.
Carr's stat sheet, totaling one tackle and two passes defended, isn't indicative of another statistic Marinelli pointed out.
"He had six opportunities to make a play, and he made all six," Marinelli said.
Carr's biggest play came in the fourth quarter, when a third-and-goal pass from the 6-yard line was initially ruled a touchdown to Nate Washington, before officials overturned the call after seeing Carr tip the ball off the ground.
"That's impressive, and I think the one in the end zone was about fight," Marinelli said. "He wouldn't quit on the ball. I don't know if you saw it or the TV caught it, but his hand was underneath. He didn't quit. That's a sign to me of a terrific football player."
Marinelli said press man coverage is the strength for most of the corners, but they "have more to the menu than just that."
He'll get the addition of Orlando Scandrick this week to add to the group and said Scandrick will "for sure" be in the nickel.
"We're just going to rotate these guys around like we do," Marinelli said. "We get Orlando back in the groove, and now what we've done, we've got depth. We've increased our depth right now, so we're excited about that. Orlando gives you obviously inside and outside. Heck of a cover corner, and physical. We're pleased where we're at, we've just got to work him in."
Numbers Game [embedded_ad]
Tight end Jason Witten isn't worried about his numbers when the Cowboys are running the way they are to start the season.
DeMarco Murray has 51 rushing attempts in two games and leads the league in rushing. That means more of a need for the tight ends to block, and because of that, Witten has just six catches for 46 yards to start the year.
The Cowboys' tight ends have combined for seven catches and 51 yards through two games.
"That's just the way the game's gone, being able to run the football the way those 3-4 teams have attacked," Witten said. "I think for all of us, our numbers will come and opportunities will come. But you have less opportunities because of the way you run the football. I think all of us are committed to that and understand it."
Witten said the team gets confidence from the running game, and he believes things will start opening up for him soon.
The Cowboys have had success running against the Rams in the recent past, but this is the first year Murray, Witten and the Cowboys will face a St. Louis defense led by coordinator Greg Williams. Witten's expecting a variety of blitzes the Cowboys need to be ready for.
"I know the way this coordinator plays," Witten said. "He's famous for the Bear front, getting eight, nine guys down inside the box. So it's hard to run on those looks. So you've got to be able to capitalize on it and stay in positive runs, have efficient runs, as we say.
"They're playing those fronts, it's one-on-one coverage outside. A lot of matchups with Dez (Bryant) and play-action game for Dez and myself and some of the other guys."
Defense For Offense
The Cowboys' top three leaders in special teams tackles are all offensive players.
It's no surprise to see Dwayne Harris atop that list, but it is somewhat surprising to see a tight end in James Hanna and a running back in Joseph Randle right behind him.
"Typically, your linebackers should be your guys who show up mostly on special teams," said head coach Jason Garrett.
That's not the case to start the year for the Cowboys. Bruce Carter's shown up in a big way on special teams early on, but he's the only linebacker with a special teams tackle. Garrett said the team's fortunate to have a fourth receiver in Harris, a backup tight end in Hanna and a third running back in Randle who can all excel on special teams.
"When you get that production from those guys, that's good for your team," Garrett said. "Obviously, you want the other guys on defense, the fourth, fifth and sixth linebacker, to have the same type of production. We work very hard on that stuff, though.
"We have an offensive tackle drill every day in practice, so you have to teach those guys to do it. Each of those guys has a mentality. They're tough guys, it's not like you have to instill toughness in them to go tackle. So our big thing was just technique. They certainly have the willingness to do it."
Anthony Spencer continues to make progress on the comeback trail.
Marinelli said Spencer's only really done individual work. But he's beginning to work his way back in with the scout team, showing up as a limited practice participant this week.
It's unlikely he plays against the Rams, but he continues to inch closer to a full return.
"He's an elite player," Marinelli said. "He has been. Boy, you welcome those types of guys. Another guy with speed and instincts, awareness. He's a veteran presence, and that's great for this defense. A real strong, tough, veteran player. He doesn't say a lot, he just lets his actions speak. Couldn't be more excited."