Cowboys attempt to Giants-proof their secondary

Cowboys cornerback Brandon Carr carries the ball after Cowboys cornerback Brandon Carr carries the ball after intercepting a pass by Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers during a preseason game at Qualcomm Stadium. (Aug. 18, 2012) Photo Credit: Getty

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For a while, when he was winning tournaments on a regular basis and transforming the game, many golf courses went about Tiger-proofing their designs. They wanted to keep Tiger Woods from conquering the sport too easily, so they made things more challenging based not on the improving skills of general golfers but the tremendous skills of one in particular.

In much the same way, it seems, the Cowboys have tried to Giants-proof their secondary.

Last year, the Giants exploited the Cowboys' cornerbacks in the two games they played against each other. Eli Manning was 51-for-80 for 746 yards and five touchdowns and threw only one interception (to linebacker Sean Lee). Victor Cruz had 12 catches against the Cowboys, including six in the NFC East-winning finale for 178 yards and a touchdown. Hakeem Nicks, meanwhile, caught 13 passes for 239 yards in the two games, including 163 in the early December game in Dallas.

In their 14 non-Giants games in 2011, the Cowboys allowed an average of 225.7 passing yards. In the two against the Giants, they allowed an average of 373.0.

Is it any wonder that the Cowboys completely revamped the position? They signed free agent Brandon Carr and drafted Morris Claiborne in the first round with the hopes of competing against the Giants' two eminent receivers and their Cowboys-killing quarterback.

Nicks and Cruz downplayed the idea that they were the reason for the upheaval.

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"We just thought more so that they wanted to add depth there and revive their secondary a little bit," Cruz said. "We didn't think it was just for us specifically."

"They made changes because they felt like they need to make changes," Nicks added. "You can't necessarily say they made the changes for us."

Carr certainly thought he was brought in to slow down the receivers. Shortly after he was signed in the spring, he was on ESPN talking about how he would handle Cruz with more physical play.

"All that salsa dancing, that's fine, but you've got to come through me," Carr said. "I don't plan on seeing no dancing."

Cruz said he's seen that the new Cowboys corners are more physical and has noticed that they are more willing to take risks. "I think they have a lot of faith in their two corners and their safeties," he said.

Nicks noted that the Cowboys have "a pretty good little rookie out there" in Claiborne but said going against a cornerback in his first NFL game will not change his attitude.

"Whoever's gonna line up, we're just gonna battle," Nicks said. "I don't care who it is."

You can bet the Cowboys do. And that's why they made the changes they made.

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