Anatomy of an exhibition loss: Cowboys style

Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley

After watching the Cowboys' first-team defense get torched by Jay Cutler and the Broncos, I called a high-ranking member of the organization seeking an explanation. Here's a quick run-down on what I was told:

  • Everyone in Oxnard, Calif., kept talking about how the Cowboys' new arrivals at cornerback would allow them to play a lot more one-on-one. I don't think that's going to be the case, but on Saturday in Denver, the Cowboys gave it a shot. Rookie Mike Jenkins was overmatched by Cutler and the Broncos receivers. In a regular-season game, I'm told the Cowboys would've done something to help Jenkins, but they wanted to see how he'd react in a pressure situation.

  • Inside linebackers Zach Thomas and Bradie James both graded out well -- especially Thomas, whose reaction time is still pretty remarkable.

  • Who were the coaches most excited about? Turns out rookie cornerback Orlando Scandrick out of Boise State had another big night. He was used on the outside and at nickel.

"He's just smart and very competitive," said the Cowboys source. "On a little swing pass the other night, he almost knocked the receiver out. He's a tough little nut."

  • Cornerbacks Alan Ball and Evan Oglesby, two players who had flashed during camp, "flat-lined" against the Broncos. Oglesby blocked 24 kicks in high school and hopes to be a part of the Cowboys' special teams unit. Ball, a seventh-round pick out of Illinois last year, spent the game chasing receivers.

  • Adam Jones played much better than he did against the Chargers. And the club was ecstatic about his 24-yard punt return, which actually netted 19 yards because of his delay of game penalty for spiking the ball.

  • Defensive end Marcus Spears actually had a nice effort against the run. He knifed through and made a play behind the line in the first half. The other starting defensive end, Chris Canty, probably won't play at home against the Texans on Friday because of a hip injury.

  • Backup linebacker Bobby Carpenter bounced back nicely after a nondescript performance against the Chargers. He played in several sub-packages.

"If he keeps playing like that, you'll see him on the field a lot this season," said the source.

  • Safety Roy Williams had a solid outing, although the staff admits that it's doing everything possible to keep him "out of harm's way," which is another phrase for one-on-one coverage.

  • Rookie free-agent safety Dowayne Davis had been impressive throughout camp, but he "flat-lined" against the Broncos.