Friday, July 24, 2009

Training Camp Preview - Part 8 - Cornerbacks

The top three cornerbacks on the roster heading into training camp look very good for the Cowboys. After that, there is a lot of unproven youth at the position. Terence Newman, Orlando Scandrick and Mike Jenkins are the top three players. There will be a battle to fill out the rest of the depth chart. Alan Ball and Mike Mickens look like the best bet to make the team but there will be a few other players fighting for a job as well. I want to take a quick look at what to expect from each cornerback in training camp.

Terence Newman - This is an easy one. He is one of the best in the NFL when healthy, but the last two years have left serious doubt that he is durable enough to be counted on for 16 games. I just want him to make it to the regular season healthy. We all know what he is capable of on the field, so he doesn't have anything to prove to me during training camp except that he can stay healthy.

Mike Jenkins - By the end of last season Jenkins was starting to show some of the ability that made the Cowboys draft him in the first round. There are concerns from some people about his toughness, but I'm really not too worried about that. I just want to see more confidence in his game. Jenkins started the season a little tentative, but after yet another Cowboys' injury he came back as a much more aggressive player against the pass. I want to see him challenging receivers at the line during training camp and showing the ability to knock down passes thrown in his direction. He has to step up his game this season.

Orlando Scandrick - Scandrick was a surprise last year being a fifth round draft pick. After showing some tremendous talent last season he will have much higher expectations heading into this season. I completely agree with Nick Eatman of DallasCowboys.com on this one. It will be harder for Scandrick to impress us this season because we now all believe he is talented. Last season it was easier for him because there were very low expectations for him. Just like Jenkins I want to see tight coverage and passes being broken up. We all know he can do it, but this season he'll be expected to be a big time player.

Alan Ball - I think Ball was a forgotten man this offseason with all of the talk about Jenkins and Scandrick. He didn't get much playing time but when he was forced into action against Tampa Bay he was very good. He has got to be ready to play when teams go to a four receiver set. Ball is going to have to earn is playing time by beating out Mike Mickens during camp.

Mike Mickens - I believe we are going to look back at the 2009 draft in a few years and view Mickens as the steal of the draft. He slipped all the way to the seventh round due to an injury, but he appears fully healed heading into training camp. From what I have heard about this guy he absolutely has the talent to play at the NFL level. I'll be interested to see what he can do during camp. I hope to see some quickness and a knack for getting between the receiver and the ball. I have high hopes for Mickens.

I think the cornerback position is in good shape heading into the season. I wasn't sad to see Anthony Henry go because I was sick of watching him allow passes to be caught in front of him on a regular basis. The tipping point for me came when he couldn't cover a one armed receiver (Derrick Mason) in the Ravens game. The big question mark is the health of Terence Newman. If he can stay on the field then the pass defense should be better this season than last year. I don't really care who wins the starting job across from Newman because Jenkins and Scandrick will both be on the field most of the time with so many teams running three and/or four receiver sets on most plays.

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