On the surface it seems as if the 2016 Cowboys had a strong quartet of cornerbacks. Now two of those four have left via free agency, so naturally they need replacing, right?
The team signed Nolan Carroll from the Eagles, but that doesn’t excite anybody, so surely this is the team’s biggest need right now, perhaps warranting the investment of two high draft picks in about a month’s time, right?
Despite the fact that the 2016 Cowboys seemingly had four competent, starting-level cornerbacks, the vast majority of the season was spent playing with only three. Ironman Brandon Carr did not miss a game and hardly missed a snap, he was always on the field. Rookie Anthony Brown actually played the second most snaps out of the cornerbacks after Carr despite the fact that he hardly played the first two games of the season, but after that is when it starts to get hairy.
Orlando Scandrick was slated to be the team’s slot cornerback as he was eased back into action after a torn ACL forced him to miss the entire 2015 season. Morris Claiborne surprisingly won the starting role opposite Carr in training camp and started off hot during the first five or six games of 2016.
But how often were these four all healthy and active on the 46-man gameday roster?
In the very first game of the season against the Giants Scandrick suffered a hamstring injury that he eventually returned from later in the game. He went on to play the next week against the Redskins, but he was clearly never 100%, and after that he would go on to miss the next four games with injuries to both hamstrings. He wouldn’t return until October 30th against the Eagles, although he would go on to play the rest of the regular season and playoffs without issue.
Claiborne on the other hand was completely healthy and playing great until Week 6 against the Packers where he suffered an apparent concussion in the first half, which forced him to miss the rest of the game. He returned the next week against the Eagles, but late in the game he suffered a groin injury that would keep him out the rest of the regular season. He did come back for the playoff game against the Packers, but he didn’t seem 100% and left the game with a rib injury early in the third quarter, never to return.
So to sum up, the Cowboys only played one game the entire season where all four cornerbacks were healthy and finished the game without issue, the first Redskins game, although as noted earlier Scandrick didn’t seem to be back to normal until after sitting out a month or so with the hamstring injuries. They also had their full complement of corners for the vast majority of the first Giants and Eagles games,…
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