When defensive coordinator Rob Ryan watched his secondary last season, he saw a secondary without confidence.
He already sees a different attitude this year.
"Right now, I think there is a comfort level that we never had last year," Ryan said Wednesday after the Cowboys' eighth OTA practice. "Guys are starting to understand the defense more."
The Cowboys had two of the worst passing defenses in team history the past two seasons. They gave up 3,906 passing yards last season after allowing 3,894 the previous year. Only the 1983 Cowboys, who allowed 3,928 passing yards, were worse.
Ryan didn't have as much time working with his defense before the 2011 season because of the lockout-shortened season.
"Unfortunately I probably put a little too much in too early [last year]," Ryan said. "By the end of the year, I think we lost some confidence, especially in the secondary. We weren’t challenging receivers like we need to do. Obviously it showed, and it hurt us."
The Cowboys might have more confidence, because they have better players.
Dallas signed Brandon Carr to a five-year, $50.1 million contract in free agency before moving up to sixth overall to draft Morris Claiborne. They will join Mike Jenkins and Orlando Scandrick. The Cowboys also have a new secondary coach in Jerome Henderson, who replaced Dave Campo.
Henderson has had his secondary learning different multiple positions.
"Jerome trains them that way so they can move them all over the place," Ryan said. "That way, you can play them at more spots, and be a better defense."
-- Brent Shirley