The Dallas Cowboys biggest x-factor could be veteran cornerback Orlando Scandrick, who will need to return to form in 2017.
The Dallas Cowboys are certainly rolling the dice this season in the secondary, after letting starters Barry Church, Morris Claiborne and Brandon Carr walk in the offseason. did bring in one veteran, Nolan Carroll, to help shore up the defensive backfield. However, Carroll hasn’t been much of a difference-maker the past few seasons, and with a recent DUI incident, he’s not even a lock to make Dallas’ roster.
One guy who has managed to get lost in all the shuffle, is veteran cornerback Orlando Scandrick, who is now the most tenured members of the Cowboys’ defense. Despite an up and down 2016 season, Scandrick may just hold the Cowboys’ key to success on the defensive side of the ball.
While the Cowboys did nab a couple of potential starters in Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis in the second and third rounds respectively, the Cowboys obviously need some sort of a stop gap and veteran presence in the lineup in Week 1. Scandrick should be that man, and will undoubtedly be better this year than he was last, where he was recovering from an ACL injury,.
Defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli has noticed a change in Scandrick’s explosiveness and overall play during these past OTA’s.
"“He is getting back to his speed and movement,” Marinelli told to the Star-Telegram. “He is getting better more time on the job, more time away from injury. He is having another good off-season. I enjoy watching him.”"
Scandrick, who has always played with a chip on his shoulder since he came into the league back in 2008, may have extra motivation this year, after being a part of draft-day trade rumors. The Cowboys were supposedly shopping Scandrick for a mid-round draft pick, but no deal came to fruition.
Regardless, Scandrick has a lot to prove coming into 2017, including fending off two rookies for his starting job. However, no task has been too tall for the diminutive corner thus far in his career.
"“Of course, when they bring in new people that gives you extra motivation,” Scandrick told the Star-Telegram. “But the time is now. My time is now. I’m not going to look over my shoulder wondering what is going to happen. I feel like I was an ascending player when I tore my ACL and I’m going back to that.”"
The Cowboys should be thrilled with the fact that Scandrick is coming into the season with that type of mindset. After all he could end up being their most important player on defense, other than Sean Lee. With the versatility to play right, left, and inside corner, he’s going to have to take on a big role to offset the Cowboys’ offseason departures. And something tells me he’s up to the task.