Consider Dallas Cowboys cornerback Orlando Scandrick properly motivated.
Credit the trade talk during the 2017 NFL draft in April as well as the influx of three new rookie cornerbacks, namely Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis, picked in the second and third rounds, respectively.
The normally prickly Scandrick is focused, happy and appreciative about his place on the team.
“I’m all in,” Scandrick said. “This is the only place I know. I have never been in another locker room. I don’t want to go in another locker room. I want to finish this thing out there and to win a championship. I have accepted the challenge of the new guys coming in. I’ve told them I’m not going to give anybody my job.”
The confident Scandrick, 30, is finally healthy again after missing 2015 with a torn anterior cruciate ligament and spending much of last season laboring from complications, including hamstring injuries and plantar fasciitis.
Players are usually back to their former status a year removed from the injury, and defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli says he is seeing the old Scandrick again in practice.
Scandrick was the team’s best cornerback from 2012 through 2014.
“He is getting back to his speed and movement,” Marinelli said. “He is getting better more time on the job, more time away from injury. He is having another good off-season. I enjoy watching him.”
Scandrick says things are night and day from this time last year when he was held out of all activities in mini-camp and then entered the season wondering if he could trust his knee.
“I had a lot of pain last year,” Scandrick said. “I didn’t trust it last year. It’s different. I’m more confident. I’m calm. I’m back to who I was. The mental aspect is the part that takes the longest. You’ve got to trust yourself with people around your feet.”
In summary, Scandrick has his swagger back and has no plans of giving away his job.
“Of course, when they bring in new people that gives you extra motivation,” Scandrick said. “But the time is now. My time is now. I’m not going to look over my shoulder wondering what is going to happen. I feel like I was an ascending player when I tore my ACL and I’m going back to that.”
Marinelli said the return of the former Scandrick will help make up for the losses of veteran leadership on defense with the departures of cornerbacks Morris Claiborne and Brandon Carr and safeties Barry Church and J.J. Wilcox.
“He is a heck of a player now,” Marinelli said. “We all know that. His leadership. His savviness. We are really counting on him.”
Considering he came into the league with a chip on his shoulder as an overlooked fifth-round pick in 2008 and used it to fuel a nine-year career, motivation has never been a factor for Scandrick.
Still, the extra burr in his side from the trade talk and the influx of rookies has been evident throughout the off-season.
“He is an eternally motivated man,” Marinelli said. “He’s got a lot of pride. He comes out with a chip on his shoulder every day. That is who he is. He is a competitor. He is a terrific competitor.”