New secondary isn’t much better without Newman
iRViNG — The enduring image of cornerback Terence Newman’s nine seasons as a starter in Dallas was getting hurdled by a fullback in a seasonending loss to the New York Giants that kept the Cowboys out of the playoffs.
His release didn’t come until two months after the Cowboys finished one of the worst seasons of pass defense in franchise history. It might as well have been that cold night in New Jersey last January.
“I pretty much figured it was coming,” said Newman, who was dumped to avoid an $8 million hit against the Dallas salary cap.
Nine months later, Newman is having a much better season with the Cincinnati Bengals and gets a chance Sunday to play the team that drafted him fifth overall in 2003. He will also see one of his replacements — rookie Morris Claiborne, who was taken at No. 6, the highest pick for the Cowboys since getting Newman.
“A person can be bitter all they want, but it’s not going to change anything,” Newman said. “I mean, I’m happy, playing pretty well, winning football games, so that’s my No. 1 focus. There’s no reason for me to be bitter.”
Still, the ending wasn’t pretty for a player who started 131 of his 133 games and had 32 interceptions in Dallas, tied with linebacker Lee Roy Jordan for seventh in franchise history.
There were several moments last season with Newman at the center of an ugly moment. The worst was Giants fullback Henry Hynoski looking like an Olympic hurdler when he took a short pass in the open field and jumped over a flailing Newman, who had ducked to try to make the tackle. The Giants threw for 331 yards without an interception in a 31-14 win that started a Super Bowlwinning run.
Dallas went home with a defense that allowed 3,903 passing yards, just 25 shy of the record from 1983. The Cowboys had a new coordinator in Rob Ryan, but the lockout gave him little time to install his complicated, attacking style. Newman, meanwhile, battled hamstring, neck and toe problems and became the target of opposing offenses.
The Cowboys aren’t significantly better in the secondary this season. They’re on pace to allow more than 3,500 yards, and they have just five interceptions, well off last year’s pace. Dallas is the only team in the league without a player who has at least two interceptions.
“I’ve got guys I know in that secondary that I have a lot of respect for, so it’s not funny at all,” Newman said.
Newman leads the Bengals in pass breakups and intercepted Peyton Manning twice in the same game, bringing his career total to 34. He’s fifth on the team with 58 tackles and is right on the pace of his career high of 77 with the Cowboys in 2010.
After a change of scenery, Bengals cornerback Terence Newman — who spent nine seasons with the Cowboys — is leading his new team in pass breakups.