Cowboys proving accountability is tied to starting jobs

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The Dallas Cowboys have replaced Bruce Carter in the starting lineup for Sunday’s game against the Denver Broncos, not only for his poor play against the San Diego Chargers last week but also a disappointing and unacceptable lack of effort, a source said.

Ernie Sims, who replaced Carter in the second half against the Chargers, will get the start at weakside linebacker and in the nickel packages against the Broncos.

Vice president Stephen Jones denied that the Cowboys questioned Carter’s effort against the Chargers.

Carter was admonished by the coaches for the effort that showed on film, a source said.

No one questions the third-year linebacker’s heart, and the coaches understand he was frustrated and lost confidence, but they say the effort issues are not acceptable.

Carter is the team’s fastest and most athletic linebacker.

“They definitely got on me about it,” Carter said. “I think just because I’m all over the field, but there’s no excuse. I still have to play with a high tempo and just rally and get to the ball.”

Regarding his starting job, Carter said: “I want to play. I don’t take nothing away from him. Ernie is my guy. I love him like a brother. I want to go out there just as much as he does. It’s out of my hands, I’ll say that.”

The Cowboys have already replaced three other players in the starting lineup.

Carter joins cornerback Morris Claiborne, who was supplanted by Orlando Scandrick; right guard Mackenzy Bernadeau, who was replaced by Brian Waters; and safety Will Allen, who was replaced by J.J. Wilcox.

Claiborne and Carter were first- and second-round picks, respectively, and considered cornerstone players for the future.

“Obviously, we respect what the coaches feel like they need to do to get the most out of our players,” Stephen Jones said. “We respect the decision they have made on who is going to start. We do need to have accountability if we are going to be better than we have done in the past. We don’t want to be a .500 team and to lose a game like we did [against the Chargers] drops us back to that level again.

“We want to get going in a better direction than we have historically done. We have to have accountability from top to bottom.”

Owner Jerry Jones is admittedly disappointed in Claiborne and Carter.

“They aren’t playing better,” Jerry Jones said Thursday night at the National Football Foundation Leadership Hall of Fame inductions. “I don’t think I’m as disappointed as they are individually.”

Jerry Jones said both are young players and he believes they will bounce back from their struggles — though he’s doesn’t deny that he expected more because of what was invested in them.

The Cowboys moved from No. 14 to No. 6 in the first round and gave up a second-round pick in a swap with the Rams to select Claiborne in the 2012 draft. Carter was a second-round pick in 2011.

“I think the real way for me to say it is we would have [done the trade again for Claiborne] because of what we think of him and what we know of him,” Jerry Jones said. “I think they will step up their game and correct the kinds of things that are [wrong]. There’s one thing that you can’t correct; a lack of speed or lack of athletic ability.”

Claiborne has one interception and nine pass breakups in two seasons.

Carter is second on the team in tackles with 31 and has two sacks this season. But he struggled so badly in pass coverage against the Chargers last weekend that he lost confidence and was benched in favor of Sims.

“I actually thought Sims played pretty good when he came in the other day and he actually played better than Carter played,” Jones said. “I look for Carter to rebound and play better. Probably in a game like we’re playing [against Denver], where these linebackers are going to not only run but pass-defend, we’re going to need both of those guys all day.”

• Wide receiver Miles Austin will likely miss his second consecutive game with a hamstring injury. He hasn’t practiced all week and is listed as doubtful on the injury report. Terrance Williams likely will start again in his place.

• Linebacker Justin Durant is also listed as doubtful with a groin injury. He could be a game-time decision.

• Defensive George Selvie practiced on a limited basis Friday, missing much of the week after suffering a head injury against the Chargers. He is listed as questionable.

• Parking lots open at 10 a.m. Sunday The plazas will open at noon. Stadium gates open at 1 p.m. Kickoff is scheduled for 3:25 p.m.

Clarence E. Hill Jr. 817-390-7760 Twitter: @clarencehilljr

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