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December 16, 2012

Ryan says he's sending Spencer at the quarterback more (as requested), but not that much more

Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan said yes, he’s sending Anthony Spencer at the passer more often – as “the Joneses” have, ahem, requested from time to time – but not that much more.

“We still have him in coverage quite a bit, but when we do cut him loose, he’s getting out there,” Ryan said Friday, talking to reporters at Valley Ranch. “And I think you guys, from talking to the Joneses last year, they want him to go more, so we sent him more this season, but not all that much.

“He’s really made a difference. Every time the game is on the line, Anthony Spencer seems to make us the play to win us the game.”

Spencer’s sack gave the Cowboys the ball so they could drive for the winning field goal last week. He had two sacks against the Bengals and led the Cowboys with 11 tackles.

His 8.5 sacks this year are a career high. But the Cowboys still see a lot of value in him besides as a pass rusher.

“Because he’s great in coverage, too,” Ryan said. “Those strong-side linebackers have to – you have to have them in coverage all the time or you don’t have a good, sound defense. You’ve got to pick your spots with him. We’ve done a better job of playing some what we call Fox, when we’re sending both of the guys and still playing zone coverage behind him and not just man. We’ve done a better job with our package to get him more involved, but overall, Anthony Spencer deserves everything, all the credit he’s starting to get because he flat out deserves it. He’s been tremendous.”

Spencer, with 29 tackles in the last three games, leads the Cowboys in tackles with 88.

-- Carlos Mendez

Twitter @calexmendez

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