Orlando Scandrick was surrounded by reporters at his locker at the Dallas Cowboys headquarters at The Star in Frisco.
He was all smiles.
But there was a hint of anger in his heart.
“I felt like all y’all sitting here doubted me,” Scandrick said. “I feel like at some point in time everybody in this circle doubted me, and I love to make y’all eat the pen and I’m going to keep making y’all eating the pen.
“When you know you can do something but you’re not physically able to do it because things are restricting you, that’s the hardest thing. But there’s nothing restricting me now and I’m fully healthy. I understand that I missed 20 games in the last two years, but 16 of them was nothing I could do about it. But before that I rarely missed games, but everybody seems to forget that. So I’ll have to remind you guys in 2017.”
A doubted, sassy and motivated Scandrick is the best Scandrick and that makes the Cowboys happy.
Finally healthy again aftermissing 2015 with a torn anterior cruciate ligament and medial collateral ligament in his right knee, Scandrick is back playing at a high level.
He has been one of the stars of training camp and gave fans a glimpse of his progress with an impressive performance against the Indianapolis Colts on Saturday. He displayed his stickiness as a slot corner, his smarts by knocking down a pass on a blitz and his toughness on a couple of tackles on the perimeter to get the defense off the field.
“Oh, man, I showed that I’ve still got it I guess,” said Scandrick, who also missed four games last season while battling hamstring injuries. “Still got a little juice left. I’m in a good place mentally. I’m in a good place physically and I’m just excited.”
Scandrick was the team’s best defensive back before his injury two years ago. His return to form has offset the loss of veteran cornerbacks Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne in free agency and mitigated a possible need to rush rookie draft picks Chido Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis on the field.
Both have missed much of camp with hamstring injuries.
“I think he’s come back, he’s moving really well, he’s got that swagger,” defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli said. “He really is a terrific blitzer so I’m excited to see that part of his game back.”
Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said some of Scandrick’s feistiness was missing last season.
“He wasn’t quite himself, but again it was important for him to fight through it and play those snaps and really help our football team,” Garrett said. “I think he gained a lot of respect from his teammates during that process. He just looks better physically. So much of why he’s been a good player for such a long time is the spirit that he plays with. The healthier you are, the more productive you are, the better that spirit gets.
“He plays with a chip on his shoulder, that’s always been a big part of his personality as a player and it shows up. He’s certainly playing good football right now.”
Scandrick said he felt he was always a step late last year and ran with a hitch. He said everybody knew it, magnified it and judged him.
And then came the drafting of the young corners and his name being bandied about in trade talks.
“I tell them all every day I’m not going to give anybody my job,” Scandrick says of the rookies.
Still, it only added to his motivation to come back better than ever, putting more wood on an already raging fire.
“In this world, I know how it works. This world revolves around people wanting to see others kind of fail so they can have something to talk about,” Scandrick said. “That’s what drives television, that’s what drives news. Bad things.
“I’m just focused and like I said I’m in a good place mentally. I just want to prove to everyone or whoever doubted me that I’m not old, I still got it. I’m still a good football player.”
Cowboys vs. Raiders
7 p.m. Saturday, KTVT/11