Tuesday, June 09, 2009

DMN Blog: Terence Newman: 'We're going to be one of the top secondaries'

Tim MacMahon/Blogger

Anthony Henry, Roy Williams, Keith Davis and Pacman Jones -- all guys who played significant roles in the Cowboys' defensive backfield last season -- are no longer on the Valley Ranch payroll. However, the secondary's headliner isn't worried.

"I think we're going to be one of the top secondaries out there," Terence Newman said. "We've got all the talent."

It'd certainly help if Newman stays healthy an entire season for the first time since 2006. It's no coincidence that the Cowboys' pass defense got remarkably better after Newman returned from sports hernia surgery last season.

But Newman, like his coaches, is awfully excited about the cornerbacks competing to start on the opposite side of the field from him.

The Cowboys clearly believe that '08 first-rounder Mike Jenkins and fifth-rounder Orlando Scandrick are upgrades over Henry, as evidenced by their willingness to ship Henry to Detroit instead of waiting for the Lions to cut Kitna. The statistical evidence indicates that the Cowboys are correct.

Scandrick was solid as a slot corner all last season. Jenkins' role was inconsisent during an up-and-down rookie year, but the consensus opinion from Cowboys folks is that he's primed to fulfill his first-round potential.

"Both of them are great athletes to start," Newman said. "They've both started working on technique heavily and you can tell. It pays.

"Jenkins was kind of rusty as far as a press corner. That's all he did. But there were certain technical errors that he made last season, and he's worked hard in the off-season to correct those. You can tell it when we watch the film and Campo is telling him great job and that's the way it's supposed to be done.

"Orlando, he was pretty good at press anyway. He's just working on technique as well, trying to protect our craft. Both of them have come a long ways."

The Cowboys ranked fifth in the NFL in passing defense last season (187.7 yards per game). They expect to be in that range again while coming up with a lot more than the eight picks they had last season.

They're confident that Jenkins and Scandrick are ready to play major roles in an elite secondary.