IRVING, Texas – It's funny how the locker room can be consistently similar and yet ever-changing all at once.
As the Cowboys began their game prep for St. Louis on Wednesday, plenty of the team's most familiar faces gave their regular interviews. Team staples like Tony Romo and Jason Hatcher talked at length, and the same routine will continue into Thursday and Friday with different players.
At the same time, a new cast over characters is constantly rotating into the mix on the fringe of the roster. The Cowboys cut ties with defensive tackle Landon Cohen on Tuesday afternoon, and his replacement, David Carter, was settling into his new locker Wednesday.
Carter, who was cut by the Cardinals after training camp this season, clocks in at a mammoth 6-foot-5, 300 pounds. He practiced Wednesday, and he said his size and mobility give him the flexibility to play both interior positions, as well as defensive end.
"I have a little bit of speed, so that allows me to play the end position. I got a little bit of size to me, so that allows me to play nose and three technique," he said. "I think I'll be effective all across the board here – like today they put me at nose, under the three technique over here, and I had a little bit of success today, I feel." [embedded_ad]
Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said Wednesday morning he plans to throw a lot at Carter in a short amount of time to see if he's ready for action. For his part, Carter said he felt ready.
Hatcher and Hayden remain the anchors at defensive tackle, and it seems like a safe assumption that DeMarcus Ware will be ready for the Rams despite being limited at practice. But the loss of Cohen, plus the limited availability of Anthony Spencer, seems likely to create opportunities.
On top of Carter, another recent addition to the team, Caesaer Rayford, is hoping to grab that chance.
"There's definitely opportunity there. Just being here, every practice is an opportunity," Rayford said. "I just take it as every day practice is an opportunity no matter what changes they make. Every day I'm here, I'm trying to make the best of it."
The front four is set for the time being, especially with George Selvie playing so well while Spencer works his way back into game shape.
But there are always opportunities, or else there wouldn't always be new faces in the locker room.
Here are some more notes from Wednesday afternoon's locker room session:
- Rookie center Travis Frederick said he got too aggressive in trying to block Kansas City nose tackle Dontari Poe last weekend. Poe slipped past Frederick in the first quarter and sacked Tony Romo to force Dallas into a 3rd and 16 and an eventual field goal. "I learned from it and faced the same moves several times during the game later on, but I had learned from it," he said. "But obviously you've got to go into the game knowing that."
- Frederick was asked repeatedly about the Cowboys' struggles running the ball so far this season. He took his share of the blame, stating that offensive communication starts at his position. Frederick also said the offense needs to be consistent despite the ebbs and flows of playcalling during a game. "Consistency has to be a thing that you can pull in and out of. Obviously there's going to be times during the game where you're going to have a long stretch where you don't run the ball – depending on what the situation is," he said. "Let's say it's the end of half … and you might go two drives in two-minute (offense), and not run the ball as much as you would in a normal situation. So let's say it's six minutes or four minutes of the game that you haven't run, and then you go into halftime and it's an even longer time. You have to be able to pull that back out."
- With just four true cornerbacks on the roster, and with Morris Claiborne slowed by injury, Sean Lee said the Cowboys may have to find other ways to slow the Rams' passing attack without the help of a traditional dime package. Speedsters like rookie receiver Tavon Austin may make that difficult. "They have a lot of talent when it comes to guys in space – quick guys – and the quarterback making a throw," Lee said. "So for us, being able to play in space, being able to match up with some of these guys will be an issue for us. But we're preparing for it, and I think we'll be ready for it."
- Lee said the defense's pride was hurt by its inability to force at least one turnover in a one-point loss last week, as well as its inability to get Kansas City off the field in crunch time. He said the defense will look to turn that around going forward.