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August 19, 2012

Albright criticizes himself for not doing enough in relief of Ware but teammates rally to his defense

Dallas Cowboys linebacker Alex Albright had one of the hardest tasks on the field Saturday against San Diego: filling in for the injured DeMarcus Ware, a Pro Bowler and one of the NFL’s top pass rushers.

Albright started in Ware’s spot at outside linebacker, also saw time inside and finished with four tackles. That is five fewer than in Monday’s game at Oakland.

Teammates lauded Albright’s efforts after a 28-20 loss to the Chargers in which the first-team defense did not allow any points for the second consecutive game in the pre-season. That happened even with multiple starters, like Ware (hamstring), sidelined with injuries. Albright was less effusive.

“I think the defense as a whole played well. Me, personally, not so much,” Albright said. “Giving up 28 points just doesn’t sit well. Especially with myself when I was out there most of the time. I have to look at my own performance and ask what I could have done to prevent that.”

Albright understands he is not expected to produce like Ware, a six-time Pro Bowler who led the team in sacks last season with 19.5.

“I don’t think anyone can really fill in for DeMarcus. He’s in a league of his own out there,” said Albright, adding that his goal was to minimize the dropoff against San Diego. Ware is expected back for next week’s game against the St. Louis Rams in Arlington.

Fellow linebacker Victor Butler considered it notable that Albright made some key mental plays against the Chargers that offer insight about his value to the team regardless of the stat sheet.

“We put in a check this morning and the situation comes up in the game. He was the first one to spot it out and signal it to the whole defense,” Butler said. “Not Sean Lee. Not the safeties. It was Alex Albright. I just attribute it to Rob Ryan getting on everybody, making everybody accountable, making everyone know what the guys behind you do.”

Butler said Albright “knows the game almost as well as Sean Lee,” the team’s defensive signal-caller.

Lee considers Albright, a second-year pro, a player with a keen mind “who’s improved as an athlete (during the off-season). You’re seeing it transfer on to the field now.”

_ Jimmy Burch

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