The Dallas Cowboys tested their secondary depth on Sunday, and the results weren’t pretty.
The Denver Broncos and quarterback Trevor Siemian picked apart the Cowboys’ defense in a 42-17 victory at Mile High.
Siemian tied his career-high with four touchdown passes, completing 22 of 32 passes for 231 yards with an interception. He had a 116.0 passer rating, the fourth time he’s surpassed the 100-mark in his young career.
The Cowboys were operating from an inferior position much of the night, though, because of injuries to their secondary. This is a unit that was already without its most proven cornerback, Orlando Scandrick, who was ruled out with a broken hand.
Then they lost Chidobe Awuzie (hamstring) and Nolan Carroll (concussions) to injuries in the first half. That left them with two healthy cornerbacks in second-year pro Anthony Brown and rookie Jourdan Lewis, who made his NFL debut after battling hamstring injuries.
Rookie safety Xavier Woods served as the emergency nickel corner.
“It really challenged us because even Lewis we were guarded about how much to go with him,” owner Jerry Jones said. “He ended up really having to play a role on defense. We were concerned about him, first game, first time back. A matter of fact, I’ll go to my grave thinking that’s what happened when he first got to training camp, he was so excited about proving himself that he got out there and pulled a hammy. Well, we didn’t want that to happen. Sure enough, he gets in and has a big challenge, a big day of reps and obviously he got outside in there on a couple of key plays, but the interception was great.
“He’s going to be a good player for us. We really, both him and Awuzie and Woods, got a lot of action out there too, that’s your future you’re looking at out there. And it’s a good one, I think.”
But they have room to grow, evidenced by Sunday. Lewis was particularly burned on a couple of plays, including a 6-yard touchdown pass from Siemian to Emmanuel Sanders in the second quarter.
As Jones stated, though, Lewis also came through with an interception late in the third quarter.
“It’s a learning experience,” Lewis said. “It’s one of the best in a real situation and a real game. It’s not how we wanted it to turn out. We’re going to make some adjustments. I’ll definitely watch the tape, get better on some of my technique and have a better effort next week.”
The Cowboys should have Scandrick return to the lineup next week, and Awuzie is hopeful that he’s able to recovery quickly from his hamstring injury.
The entire defensive unit is confident in their ability to rebound.
“Overall, offensively, defensively, special teams we didn’t do our jobs. Period,” Awuzie said. “This is a thing we can use to either get better and to get closer, or it can go the other way. But I’m real confident that we’re going to use this to get better.
“It’s going to help us grow as a team and a defense.”