Cowboys will miss Scandrick on, off field

OXNARD, Calif. -- On and off the field the Dallas Cowboys will miss cornerback Orlando Scandrick.

Scandrick will miss the first four games of the season for violating the NFL’s performance-enhancing drugs policy. If you want to read the hows and whys of the suspension, click here.

This will be about what Scandrick, the player, and how his loss will affect the defense and the team.

With Scandrick gone for four games a defense that finished last in the NFL last season will be without its four best players from a year ago: Scandrick, Sean Lee, DeMarcus Ware and Jason Hatcher. Lee is out for the year with a torn anterior cruciate ligament suffered in May. Ware was cut as part of a salary-cap purge and is now with the Denver Broncos. The Cowboys made no real effort to keep Hatcher, who signed with the Washington Redskins as a free agent.

The Cowboys have known about the possibility Scandrick would be suspended and at this time will not look for upgrades. Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne will be the starters in Scandrick’s absence. Sterling Moore will get the first crack at the nickel spot and B.W. Webb, a fourth-round pick last year, still has a chance to win a job.

Scandrick was the Cowboys best cornerback in 2013. He had a career-high two interceptions last year. He had two sacks. He has had a strong training camp, but that is nothing new for him. On Sunday he tested Dez Bryant so much in practice that Bryant lost his composure and the two got into a brief tussle. He also came up with a big hit on a reverse to wide receiver Dwayne Harris.

Scandrick has played with a swagger since he arrived in 2008 as a fifth-round pick. He has outlasted higher picks such as Terence Newman and Mike Jenkins and outplayed Claiborne, who was the sixth pick inb the 2012 draft.

Coach Jason Garrett even named him a captain for the first preseason game against the San Diego Chargers.

On a defense that lacks playmakers and leaders, Scandrick was both.

“Scandrick is playing with a chip on his shoulder that seems like he gets bigger and bigger and bigger, which is outstanding,” Bryant said after Sunday’s practice.

The Cowboys, however, won’t see that in a real game until Oct. 5 against the Houston Texans.