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Orlando Scandrick Having Quietly Great Year for Dallas Cowboys

Once-scrutinized Corner Making Plays This Season

Yahoo Contributor Network
COMMENTARY | It's time to start praising Orlando Scandrick.

Wait, what? The same guy that Dallas Cowboy fans wanted out of town after a rough start to his career? And then was rewarded with a five-year extension worth $27 million and given $10 million guaranteed?

That same Orlando Scandrick?

It's almost hard to believe, but the former Boise State cornerback has finally evolved into a quality nickel defender for the Cowboys, when just a few years ago fans had their torches and pitchforks at the ready.

Times haven't been great to Scandrick. He's played in three different defenses in Dallas under Wade Phillips, Rob Ryan and Monte Kiffin. When he was drafted by Phillips and co. in 2009, he was picked on almost every down. He made strides under Rob Ryan and was becoming a quality defensive back.

But what Kiffin has brought to this Cowboys defense, although they rank 31st in the league in allowed passing yards, is the knowledge to learn how to make plays in the secondary.

Dallas' defense already has more takeaways this year than all of last year, and while only two of those have been interceptions by Scandrick, his impact in the slot hasn't gone unnoticed, and the Cowboys have needed every bit of his production.

Morris Claiborne has struggled, and Brandon Carr brings good and bad to being the No. 1 corner. Meanwhile, Scandrick is tied for second on the team with Carr in interceptions (albeit, one was an early Christmas gift from Robert Griffin III), and has nine pass breakups through nine games, which ties his career high that he's set twice.

Even though Christian Ponder was the opposing quarterback on Sunday, the once-scrutinized Scandrick had one of the best games of his career in the 27-23 win over the Minnesota Vikings. He broke up four passes, his total from all of last season, and was in the right place at the right time to pick off Ponder in the fourth quarter.

The case could be made that Scandrick has been the best player in the Cowboys secondary this year. Has he been consistent? Nobody has been on this defense, hence why it's such an eye-sore.

Scandrick has remained the most consistent through nine games, though, and it's good to have a player like that coming down the stretch when you're trying pull away from a division race. Struggling, but trying. He'll get a good test next week against Drew Brees and New Orleans under the bright lights of Sunday Night Football.

He's not going to be a lock-down defensive back on the outside, but with the playoffs formatting the way it is, you're going to need someone in the slot.

Finally, Scandrick appears to be the guy.

Danny Webster is a featured columnist for the Dallas Cowboys. You can reach him by going on Twitter and finding @DannyWebster21.

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