In a tight corner

IRVING, Tex. - The most tightly contested battle for a starting position entering this summer's Dallas Cowboys training camp remains the most tightly contested position with just days remaining before the team's season opener Sunday afternoon at Tampa Bay.

Starting in the offseason, media and fans debated whether Mike Jenkins or Orlando Scandrick should start at cornerback across from Terence Newman, and as the team goes through its preparations for the Buccaneers, it appears the Dallas coaching staff is no closer to naming a starter.

For Jenkins, Sunday's game will be something of a homecoming as he gets to play in the stadium in which he played while starring at the University of South Florida, but he said this week that he wouldn't be surprised if he and Scandrick don't learn who will start until the day of the game.

"That's what it's looking like right now," he said. "Both of us at the No. 1 spot — they've got us both charted at the No. 1, so I guess it will be a game-time decision."

Scandrick said the battle for the starting role did not change his offseason work in the slightest.

"Not at all," Scandrick said. "I came out and maintained the same thing — I competed against myself. I rooted for Mike, he rooted for me. We knew it's going to take both of us to make this team better."

For his part, Scandrick said he is a much-improved player now that his rookie season is a thing of the past, and said he feels confident in his abilities, whether he ends up starting or not.

"I did well — I progressed a lot," Scandrick said. "I'm a different player, I know a lot more and I feel a lot more comfortable. I'm better at recognition, my technique's better — different things. I read the quarterback better, I learned some new techniques, my technique is more solid, I'm playing more consistent."

Jenkins said the uncertainty about who will start does nothing to change his excitement about the fast-approaching regular season.

"There's no feeling," he said. "It's game week — all of us have got the same goal right now, and that's to win games and move forward. That's what I'm doing right now.

"I feel like I go out there every day and I work hard. I feel like I do enough every day. If not, I'd be settling for less for myself."

Scandrick steered clear of voicing an opinion about the corner-by-committee approach, saying that any attention to the individual battle would take away from the team-first mentality he and Jenkins have to have in order to make the Dallas defense successful.

"I'm really not here to say if it's right or wrong," he said. "It doesn't matter at this point, you know? We're sharing time, and that's what it's going to be. It's going to give us both the opportunity to be on the field and help this team win.

"We really don't know (if the rotation will end at some point). That's how it's going to be right now. If both players continue to excel and play well, then I'm sure it will go on, and if one player separates himself from the other, then I'm sure he'll become the starter."

Scandrick added that regardless of who starts, the playing time he and Jenkins will earn in the rotation will end up benefiting the team down the road.

"I don't think it's for the conditioning aspect, because we worked really hard in the offseason," he said. "But I'd say the positive to it is that we'll both get game experience, (which will help) in the event that someone gets injured.

"It's my second go-'round — I'm comfortable. I like the group of guys around me, so I think we have a good team. We've gelled together well, we worked hard together this offseason. We've got a great opportunity to do some great things this year."

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