DALLAS — Dallas Cowboys cornerback Anthony Brown finds himself in year six of his career in the same way he found himself his rookie season: battling for playing time.
The Cowboys shored up their cornerback group in the offseason with the drafting of cornerbacks Kelvin Joseph in the second round and Nashon Wright in the third round.
In Brown's rookie year, he was trying to fit in with veterans such as Brandon Carr, Morris Claiborne, and Orlando Scandrick. Now, it is Brown's turn to show the newcomers the ropes while at the same time fending them off for more time on the field.
Ultimately, the former 2016 sixth-round pick from Purdue accepts the competition from the youngsters and embraces it as it will help the Cowboys recover from a 6-10 finish and get back into playoff contention in 2021.
"There's always competition," Brown told reporters on Tuesday. "It's the NFL. There's always going to be competition."
Dallas knows that they have at least one starting cornerback for new defensive coordinator Dan Quinn's defense. Trevon Diggs, Dallas' second-round pick from a year ago, figures to be a starter.
What competition throughout training camp and preseason will solve is who will start opposite him, a problem that the Cowboys have been working through all offseason since the departure of 2017 second-round cornerback Chidobe Awuzie in free agency.
"We lost Chido, so we got to replace him and somebody got to come in," said Brown. "So, there's always going to be competition and you got to do your part and don't worry about that. Like I said, make everybody better around you. At the end of the day, if we win, everybody wins."
Brown is also looking for a redemption year following a 2020 season that saw him start in eight of his 10 games played. The 5-11, 196-pound cornerback battled injuries even while he collected 39 combined tackles, a tackle for loss, a quarterback hit, two interceptions, three pass breakups, a fumble recovery – which was returned for a touchdown – and 1.0 sack.
It was a long season for Brown as he injured his ribs catching a cleat to the side at the end of practice shortly before Dallas' Week 2 showdown with the Atlanta Falcons at AT&T Stadium.
Said Brown: "I fractured like five ribs and had to deal with that. I missed three games and came back. Then I fractured the same three to four ribs again in the Minnesota game, and then I had to miss a couple more games. So it was something tough to deal with, but I just had to fight through it and do what I can and get back with the team."
Unlike a high ankle sprain which necessitates four to six weeks of rest, broken ribs have to heal on their own, and all Brown could do was play with a pad.
As Brown gets ready for his sixth season, the ribs are healed and his mind is right to take on the young challengers.
"I’m back to normal now," said Brown. "Everything feels good. I’m moving good. Mobility feels good."
The Cowboys will be hoping that the full stable of cornerbacks will be good to go for a fierce competition at training camp and that Brown will be there to lead the way for a resurgence in the secondary.
Do you think the Cowboys will find the right mix in the secondary to help improve their defense in 2021? Share your thoughts with Mark on Twitter @therealmarklane.