It’s safe to say that cornerback Brandon Carr has struggled living up to the five-year, $50.1 million deal he signed with the Dallas Cowboys as a free agent in 2012.
He has not been the shutdown cornerback they envisioned and has made few plays on the ball. He had three interceptions each of his first two seasons with Dallas but none the last two.
One of the reasons he’s still with the team is that he agreed to a pay cut this season from $9.1 million to $4.25 million.
The Cowboys might finally get the expected return on their investment in the final year of his deal because they are moving him back to a more familiar position.
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I like the right side. I used to play right corner prior to coming here.
Brandon Carr, who has been working at the right cornerback in OTAs after playing on the left side the past four years
Throughout organized team activities, Carr has lined up at right cornerback with Morris Claiborne at left cornerback.
Carr played left side corner the past four years in Dallas, but earned his stripes playing on the right side his last three years in Kansas City before jumping at the Cowboys’ lucrative offer.
“I like the right side,” Carr said. “I used to play right corner prior to coming here. We will see what the future holds. I just prefer the right side. We are trying to see what we can do.”
Carr says it’s a different game from one side to the other. The right side mainly gets the split end and you get to use the boundary. On the left side, you have to deal with slot receivers and multiple formations.
Most quarterbacks are right-handed meaning that more action and passes come to the left cornerback.
“However it happens, I feel like I’m prepared to go play inside, outside, left corner, right corner,” Claiborne said. “It doesn’t matter.”
Carr said it would be good for Claiborne to play the left side as he also will be playing for a new contract this season, whether it’s with the Cowboys or someone else.
“He is at a point in his career right now where he can benefit from playing on that left side and make some plays over there,” Carr said.
The Cowboys are downplaying the switch, saying that all the cornerbacks need to be able to play both sides to be successful.
The return of the team’s top cornerback, Orlando Scandrick, to training camp will also impact the decision. Scandrick,who missed all of last season with a knee injury, has started on the right in the regular defense before moving to the slot on obvious passing downs.
Linebacker Sean Lee is missing practice now so he can practice fully in training camp and during the season. The Pro Bowler had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee April 29 and insists he “feels great,” though the medical staff has yet to fully clear Lee.
“I feel great physically,” Lee said Thursday after the team’s annual high school football camp to end OTAs. “I’m getting better each week. I think I’ll be 100 percent ready by training camp.
“This is one of the deals, it was a leftover issue from that ACL surgery I had. We knew we might have to do it at some point. I started to have some problems in April with it, and we figured let’s do it now so we don’t have issues in season.”
Lee, who tore his left anterior cruciate ligament two years ago, said he felt discomfort squatting, lifting and running. Thus, he elected for surgery to clean up the cartilage.
20 Games linebacker Sean Lee has missed due to injury over the past five seasons
Lee plans to practice the first day of training camp.
“I’ll be out there,” Lee said. “I’ll be shocked if I wasn’t out there. I’m right on pace to be out there. At the same point, I’m going to make sure I’m healthy in season and ready for the first game. The first day of training camp is the goal.”
Lee missed two games with concussions last season. He has missed 20 games to injury over five seasons, never playing a full 16-game schedule.
Backfield in motion
Veteran running back Darren McFadden was back at practice this week after missing a week for personal reasons.
While he returned to the starting lineup in the Cowboys offense, he also found himself sharing first-team reps with rookie first-round pick Ezekiel Elliott.
McFadden worked with the starters the first week of organized team activities. Elliott, picked fourth overall and likely destined for the starting role, worked with the starters last week.
This week, they alternated reps to allow Elliott to work with quarterback Tony Romo.
“We want him to get a feel for being in there with Tony. He has worked and earned it,” running backs coach Gary Brown said. “So we are giving him an opportunity to do that. He has to keep working. He is not there yet, but we’ve got to keep going. I’m happy with his progress.”
Elliott has impressed everyone on the Cowboys with his smooth transition to the NFL so far.
It’s important for Elliott to get work with Romo because the team considers him a transcendent talent who they expect to have a huge impact as runner and receiver out of the backfield.
Staff writer Charean Williams contributed to this report.