Cowboys secondary faces tall order in Chicago

Posted Saturday, Dec. 07, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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Orlando Scandrick understands the size advantage the Chicago Bears’ Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery will have Monday night against the Dallas Cowboys’ cornerbacks.

Marshall is 6-foot-4. Jeffery is 6-3.

The Cowboys’ tallest corner is 6-foot Brandon Carr, while Scandrick is 5-10, at best.

The Cowboys know the Bears will try to take advantage of their height on the outside, but Scandrick says they are ready, pointing to the success they had limiting the Oakland Raiders’ big receivers in the Cowboys’ 31-24 victory on Thanksgiving Day.

“We have faced good guys that go up,” Scandrick said. “But I don’t know if we’ve faced two guys that go up and get the ball like these guys. Obviously, they’re going to catch passes. But we need to limit their big plays and keep them from getting on top of the defense. I feel like last week there were a couple of times where the Raiders got on top of our defense, and we can’t let that happen. I also feel like in the second half we did a much better job. I feel like we’re going to have some things game plan-wise that will help us out.”

Jeffery has 70 catches for 1,109 yards. Marshall has 78 catches for 990 yards.

Carr is tied for third for the most catches allowed, with 46. He has allowed 750 yards and two touchdowns, according to STATS. Scandrick has had a solid season, with 31 receptions allowed for 344 yards and two touchdowns.

“We’re going to have to go and stay on top of the route, turn around and play the ball,” Scandrick said. “You don’t want to get caught up in thinking how tall he is. You just try to go play the ball, and hopefully you come down with it.”

Forte watch

There were some good running backs the Cowboys could have taken in the first round of the 2008 NFL Draft instead of the now-departed Felix Jones.

Pro Bowlers Jamaal Charles of Kansas City, Ray Rice of Baltimore and Matt Forte of Chicago were all available.

The Cowboys get to see again what they missed in Forte on Monday night, as the Bears will make a point to test the league’s 27th-ranked run defense. Dallas has allowed a 100-yard rusher in three of the past four games.

“He is an extreme challenge,” Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee said. “He is one of the best all-around backs in the NFL. There is not one area of the game he is not good at. He is a great pass protector, great runner, great out of the backfield catching passes, so it’s going to be a challenge for us to try to stop him.”

Forte has rushed for 971 yards and seven touchdowns. He also has 58 receptions for 445 yards and a touchdown, making him one of just three backs in the league with more than 900 yards rushing and 400 yards receiving.

Fullback play

The Cowboys, heading for possibly their coldest regular-season game ever, finally admit a fullback will help them be more physical.

After playing all season without a true fullback on the roster, the Cowboys signed Tyler Clutts last week, and he was running first team in practice as the Cowboys prepared for the game in Chicago, where the low is expected to be in the teens.

“We feel like he can help us in some way with the physical nature of our football team,” coach Jason Garrett said. “When you have a true fullback, that can certainly have a positive impact on what you are trying to get done there.”

Garrett refused to admit that the plan to use tight ends and linebackers at fullback didn’t work out as well as the Cowboys had hoped. But he did acknowledge that Clutts, who has played in Chicago, was a player they had their eye on, he said.

Injury update

Cornerback Morris Claiborne has officially been ruled out, and returner Dwayne Harris is questionable for Monday night.

Claiborne did not practice all week, still recovering from a hamstring injury he aggravated against the New York Giants two weeks ago.

Linebacker Sean Lee is probable after practicing in full all week, as are fellow linebackers DeVonte Holloman and Justin Durant.

For the Bears, Marshall (quadriceps) and safety Major Wright (hamstring) are probable after two full practices. Safety Anthony Walters is questionable with a groin injury.

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

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