IRVING — Bruised and battered, the Dallas Cowboys' defense has reinforcements on the way.
Cornerback Morris Claiborne and safety J.J. Wilcox — both starters — along with cornerstone defensive linemen Jason Hatcher and DeMarcus Ware should all be back in the lineup for Sunday's game against the Giants.
It's not a minute too soon, according to linebacker Bruce Carter. “You know those are tremendous guys in our defense, and we're going need everybody to go out and play their best defense for us to win this game."
Dallas defenders are searching for ways to turn around a unit that's been historically bad. They've given up franchise-record yardage totals in two of their last three games, prompting Cowboys' linebacker Ernie Sims to place the utmost importance on what happens Sunday at MetLife stadium in the Meadowlands.
“This is a one-game season right now,” he said. “It's tight right now, and if you're any kind of a competitor, you're like, 'This is where it’s at.' And that's kind of the sense I feel with this team. The time is now.”
But what's long overdue is defensive consistency.
Defensive back Orlando Scandrick thinks part of the solution can be found on the hardwood of the NBA. He says think about what happens when the Lakers are struggling and Kobe Bryant steps up; or when the Mavericks hit a shooting slump and Dirk Nowitzki takes over.
“I think everybody has to do a little bit more, but if you're one of those guys that are playing well, just challenge yourself to take it up a notch and do a little bit more,” Scandrick suggested.
It should be a challenge many in the Cowboys locker room are willing to take in the wake of defensive struggles that can’t help but motivate.
“It definitely motivates you to play a good game,” said defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin. “No doubt because those bad games aren't a lot of fun. I tell you that right now.”
It’s something Kiffin knows too well, with the way things have gone this season.