Playing Four CBs May Not Be So Tough

On Wednesday, Jerry Jones called cornerback Mike Jenkins a "vital" part of the team, while tip-toeing his way around a question as to whether Jenkins or Orlando Scandrick was the team's third cornerback.

But which player is No. 3 and which player is No. 4 may not actually matter all that much, depending on how defensive coordinator Rob Ryan deploys his personnel.

On base downs, there will typically be four defensive backs on the field - two safeties and two corners. But on nickel downs, the Cowboys and most teams play two safeties, three corners and two linebackers, with four down linemen.

However, if the Cowboys are actually trying to get the most out of the talent they have, it could make sense to deploy the DBs differently in the nickel.

As of right now, the five best defensive backs on the team would appear to be Brandon Carr, Morris Claiborne, Gerald Sensabaugh, Jenkins and Scandrick. The other safety position is up in the air between Brodney Pool, Barry Church and Matt Johnson. None of those three are a sure thing.

It's not that Jenkins or Scandrick would move to safety, necessarily, but that the four corners could each line up across for a receiver, with Sensabaugh playing the single-safety-high technique.

In passing situations, or roughly half the downs, the Cowboys would do well to get their best coverage players on the field. The question becomes, which corner could move inside to line up against a tight end? Carr is a physical player, but the Cowboys might want to keep him on a top-flight wide receiver.

Or, the linebackers could play in a combintion zone, covering the tight end underneath, and passing him off to a DB if he runs deeper.

Coaches always want to get their best players on the field. It could be happening on offense, where the the Cowboys might consider playing a lot more I-form this year based on the offseason personnel changes, with the loss of Martellus Bennett and Laurent Robinson, and the addition of a very good fullback, Lawrence Vickers.

On defense, if the Cowboys do plan to keep both Jenkins and Scandrick, Ryan will be looking for a way to get them both on the field, along with Carr and Claiborne.

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