IRVING, Texas —
McCray, a fourth-year player and special teams ace, was second on the team with a career-high 87 tackles after injuries led to extensive playing time.
Dallas needs to have plenty of options at defensive line and linebacker for the transition back to the 4-3, although owner Jerry Jones backed Garrett’s assertion that the personnel matches up fairly well with the switch already.
Sean Lee and Bruce Carter figure to start at linebacker, and Ernie Sims is coming back after solid work as a midseason signing when injuries mounted. Justin Durant is coming over from Detroit, and the Cowboys hope to see more from Kyle Wilber, like Johnson a fourth-round pick last year, and undrafted free agent Alex Albright.
Anthony Spencer is likely to join DeMarcus Ware as a pass-rushing end in the new scheme, putting most of the focus on the interior of the defensive line. Jay Ratliff had an injury-plagued year and was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving just weeks after teammate Josh Brent was charged with intoxication manslaughter in the death of linebacker Jerry Brown.
Brent’s career is on hold as his case works its way through the courts. He was starting in Ratliff’s place at the time of the accident in December.
“Our anticipated defensive scheme is influencing to some degree the kind of safeties or the kind of linemen, especially, that we’re looking at,” Jones said. “The good news is we really are in good shape over on the defensive side of the ball where that scheme is.”
The Cowboys scrambled to fill holes all season when injuries decimated their defense in 2012. Part of the problem was a poor 2009 draft when Dallas didn’t have a first-round pick because of the trade for receiver Roy Williams, and traded out of the second. Dallas stockpiled later-round picks four years ago, and not one of those 12 players is still on the roster.