OXNARD, Calif.– The age-old adage of "Next Man Up" was never more obvious than Wednesday morning.
With confirmation coming down that Orlando Scandrick is out for the season, a throng of reporters surrounded Tyler Patmon – who has been tasked with replacing the veteran at slot corner.
It might be unusual for Patmon to find himself in the media spotlight, but he didn't shy away from the challenge of filling Scandrick's shoes.
"I've always been ready to play the slot, and this year that was my role if something was to happen to Scandrick – I was supposed to be ready to go," he said. "So it's something I'm definitely comfortable with."
Patmon will be given the first opportunity to secure one of the Cowboys' top three cornerback jobs. That's impressive in its own right, but it's even better upon considering Patmon's path – an undrafted rookie who was given a tryout last spring and eventually turned it into an active roster spot.
"He's done a good job for us," said defensive backs coach Jerome Henderson on Tuesday night. "And, like O, has those unique awareness instincts inside – that he feels the game, that he sees the game from a different perspective. Now he'll get an opportunity to go out and see how he holds up in there."
As a rookie, Patmon made his primary contributions in the dime package, featuring six defensive backs, as well as special teams. At this year's training camp, he's made an impact playing both right cornerback and nickel back – the latter of which plays to his strengths.
"I feel like my awareness is one of my strongest qualities as a football player, and being inside at the nickel, you have to have some awareness and be able to play around all those guys in the box," he said.[embeddedad0]
Meanwhile, Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said Scandrick will be departing Oxnard and will have surgery on his torn ACL and MCL either Thursday or Friday of this week.
"It tortures you as a coach," said defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli. "You know how much he loves to play – not likes it. He loves it. You work with these guys, and you know how much it means to them. It wounds you. It wounds your spirit as a coach."
That's a sentiment shared across the Cowboys' roster and organization. But with another practice gearing up for Wednesday afternoon, Marinelli returned to that familiar adage.
Next man up, starting with Patmon.
"Everybody in the league goes through this. It's the ones who can just put it aside, and we've got to go," Marinelli said. "We love our guy to death, we're going to root for him. But now we've got to go."