Newman struggled in his second game of the season last Sunday against the Detroit Lions. For Newman, facing Calvin Johnson was a tough challenge while still being slowed by a right groin injury.
Newman was no match for Johnson. Generally, the Lions game was a rough start for Newman as he was still a bit slow, battling his groin injury. Anyway, Newman had no chance against Johnson.
Johnson dominated Newman. On each pass by Matthew Stafford targeting Johnson, Johnson pulled the ball in. That includes the go-ahead touchdown pass in the closing minutes.
Johnson jumped up above Newman for the grab. Newman reacted late, making a small jump to contend with Johnson before pretending to have a hand on the ball before Johnson caught it.
Darelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie split time against Branch. Against the dynamic cornerback tandem, Branch caught seven passes for 74 yards and a touchdown.
If his game against the Jets is any indication, Branch could be primed for an even bigger game against Newman and the Cowboys.
Branch might be less likely than Johnson to posterize Newman, but Newman still needs to stand his ground. Newman will need to keep his full speed against Branch. As important as it was against Johnson, Newman will need to stay in step with Branch.
Newman can't let Branch's small stature fool him. Branch just might be able to get separation.
Even the great Revis couldn't keep Welker out of the end zone on Sunday. While Revis did limit Welker to two catches in the snaps he played against Welker, Welker burned Revis for a 70-yard touchdown catch. Revis did well, but didn't shut Welker down.
That showdown between the star cornerback and Welker demonstrates what a challenge Scandrick will face.
Welker is a very difficult receiver to contain. He's quick and runs precise routes. Despite being a bit small at 5'9", Welker can get the separation necessary to make catches against bigger players. Newman has an inch on Welker, but that will hardly put Welker at a disadvantage.
Like Newman, Scandrick needs to stay in step with his man. Welker, who is on pace to break the NFL record for catches and receiving yards, could get away for a big touchdown catch. Scandrick needs to avoid becoming Welker's latest victim.
Newman and Scandrick each have a big challenge this week. Hopefully, both are well-rested from the bye week.
For the Cowboys' secondary, the bye week came at the right time. Newman needed the week to refresh. Scandrick needed to heal after missing three games with a high ankle sprain.
Backup safety Danny McCray is the only player in the secondary who is still injured.
Even McCray may return this week.
Having good health is a relief for the Cowboys. Cowboys cornerbacks have been burned recently. Johnson ran through Newman and Gerald Sensenbaugh to become the first receiver to catch two or more touchdown passes in the first four games of the season.
In a harrying opening week that saw Mike Jenkins and Scandrick suffer injuries, LaDainian Tomlinson pounded the Cowboys secondary on a few catches and Plaxico Burress leaped over Alan Ball for a touchdown grab.
The Cowboys' chances against the Patriots might hinge on whether Newman and Scandrick do well in their matchups. This is the type of game in which they truly need to show their value.