The Cowboys have struggled with injuries to their cornerbacks all summer. Their fortunes did not change when the regular season began on Sunday.
Starters, Terrance Newman and Mike Jenkins, missed the entire preseason with a groin injury and a neck stinger, respectively. Jenkins came back to practice two weeks ago but was held out of contact drills until last week. He did start on Sunday night but was in and out of the lineup with injuries all night. Newman has been working with trainers trying to strengthen himself and get back on the field, but has not put pads on since last year.
Nickel corner Orlando Scandrick, who signed a contract extension in the summer, played only half a quarter in New York on Sunday night before he left with a high ankle sprain that is likely to keep him out 3-4 weeks.
While the Cowboys have Alan Ball, Bryann McCann, and now Frank Walker (signed Tuesday), there is some real curiosity about the only other corner on the roster, practice squad corner, Mario Butler. Butler, a rookie free agent, had a solid preseason and grabbed the attention of the coaches, media, and fans. He is a dynamic athlete who lacks experience on this level.
Butler enjoyed a solid, but not spectacular, college career. He enjoyed four good seasons at Georgia Tech, where he improved steadily every year. In 2010, Butler was the Yellow Jackets best cover cornerback and showed great cover skills. Butler also returned his only interception of his senior season 85 yards for a touchdown.
With all the injuries to the Cowboys secondary it is possible that Butler will get the call up this week to help on defense. He is familiar with Rob Ryan’s scheme having been at camp with the Cowboys all preseason. Butler knows that if he does get the call, he has to be ready, “That’s where preparation meets opportunity,” Butler said. “That’s been my whole mentality from Day One of camp.”
It is uncertain if Newman will practice, let alone play this weekend. With Scandrick out, and Jenkins hobbled, it would be nice to see the Cowboys try do develop a young player instead of turning to Walker, who has no idea of the system the Cowboys are running. Whether it is Butler, Walker, or even Newman, San Francisco’s wideouts have lots of speed that will test who ever the Cowboys put out there.