IRVING -- The return of Orlando Scandrick this week is important for the Dallas Cowboys.
Not only because the fourth-year cornerback can help cover Wes Welker.
But also because he brings the defense another level of intensity.
Another level of mad.
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"He's always got some kind of attitude on around him," linebacker Victor Butler said. "The way he walks. He's a football player -- he wants to hit hard, he wants to cover hard. He's a perfectionist, too. If someone's not right, he's going to yell at them. You need that kind of leadership on the field."
Whatever Scandrick brings, it will come in handy on Sunday for the Cowboys when they take on the New England Patriots and the most effective offense in football.
The Patriots lead the league in offense and passing yards and are second in points. They have scored 30 or more in 13 consecutive games, one short of the NFL record.
And Welker has an NFL-record 740 receiving yards through five games.
Scandrick is geared up for the challenge, but it's enough for him just to be back on the field after missing three games with a high ankle sprain.
"I don't feel I lost any athletic ability because of the injury," said Scandrick, who went out in the second quarter of the season opener at the New York Jets. "Injuries are part of the game. It was one of those things that couldn't have been avoided regardless of off-season or not. It was unfortunate, but I'm just excited to be back, and I'm ready to play."
In training camp, Scandrick became one of new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan's favorite players because of his intensity and toughness. Ryan put him to work on the outside in the absence of Terence Newman. With Newman back and a healthy Scandrick to pair with Mike Jenkins, the Cowboys are closer to matching up in coverage against the Patriots.
"It's good to have him back in the lineup because he's somebody who will definitely help us with communication, a guy that's familiar and knows a lot of football," safety Abe Elam said.
"He flies around. He's definitely going to have a boost of energy."
Jenkins knows what he has in Scandrick, who came to the Cowboys in the same draft class.
"Sometimes we don't even have to say anything -- just look at each other and know we'll be on the same page," he said.
The Cowboys handed Scandrick a five-year extension worth $27 million in August. He appeared poised for a breakout season until the injury stalled him. Now comes a chance to get his year going again, and it comes against a high-profile opponent.
"Winning comes first and foremost," he said. "It's not about me. I just want to do whatever it takes to win games and help this team.... We've got a lot of football. We've got a 12-game season. We want to win as many games as we can and hopefully be in position to make the postseason."