The Dallas Cowboys’ defensive line received a massive overhaul in the offseason. After having one of the worst rushing defenses in team history while not generating much of a pass rush will cause front offices a lot of consternation. Part of the overhaul was replacing defensive coordinator Mike Nolan and line coach Jim Tomsula. In came Dan Quinn and Aden Durde and the new bodies and returning players are making major strides.
Against the Arizona Cardinals, without star defensive ends DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory, the Cowboys front had a big impact on the game. Veteran Justin Hamilton checked in with a snap. Second-year DE Bradlee Anae had three QB hurries. Sixth-round rookie Quinton Bohanna had some nice presence as well. In a sloppy contest, the play of these three players stood out above the rest.
3rd Star: Osa Odoghizuwa
The rookie third-round pick showed his worth in a team-high 51 snaps on Friday night. He earned a 81.3 grade from Pro Football Focus after having two hurries and three tackles on the day. The UCLA product has the ability to play both 1 and 3-tech and the most impressive thing about him might be his elite hand fighting. https://twitter.com/JohnOwning/status/1426571477902495752 With Gallimore’s injury and Trysten Hill still sidelined, fans shouldn’t be surprised if Odighizuwa plays a key role sooner than expected.
2nd Star: Ron’Dell Carter
(AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
If Carter ends up being a player in this league, the Cowboys will have to consider themselves very fortunate. A high-pedigree UDFA in 2020, the Cowboys shocked fans by waiving him and placing him on the PS. He was poached by the Colts when they had injury issues, but was waived and Dallas snapped him back up. Now he’s competing for this year’s roster and appears to be making a strong case. Carter was a whirlwind player on Friday night in his 51 snaps, regularly in the Cardinals backfield. During the second quarter, the Cowboys got great pressure on Colt McCoy on three straight drop backs. After an Anae roughing penalty, Carter came right back and got the big second-down sack to effectively end the drive In the third quarter, Carter was called offside even though it was the rookie Bohanna that jumped the snap. Carter was so fast off the line he had a straight shot for a would-be sack had the play counted. https://twitter.com/JohnOwning/status/1426571479143964677 With the flexibility to play base end and three-technique, Carter may have the opportunity for the full roster, especially now that it looks Gallimore will be out for a while.
1st Star: Dorance Armstrong
(AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
Last year’s coaching brain trust received well-deserved criticism for playing Armstrong and Aldon Smith instead of Gregory, but Armstrong is now making clear what potential that staff saw in him. He was absolutely oustanding on Friday night. Armstrong got the start with Lawrence and played 24 snaps from left defensive end-slash-linebacker role in Quinn’s hybrid attack. On Arizona’s first drive, he came through with a big third-down sack inside the Cowboys’ 10-yard line to thwart a potential touchdown drive. https://twitter.com/Peleg_IT/status/1426381093511434242?s=20 After making a first-down tackle on the Cards’ first drive of the second quarter, he came right back with his second QB takedown of the game. https://twitter.com/mailman_phil/status/1426395976391184385?s=20 He also chipped in with a pass deflection which just went off his fingertips. It would’ve been a pick-six for the fourth-year Kansas product. He appears to be locking himself into the role of the third pass rusher behind the two stars and Dallas could desperately use a breakout season from him.