Since DeMarcus Lawrence is out with a foot injury, there are three Cowboys who need to saddle up and take the defensive end’s integral place on the defense.
Replacing Dallas Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence won’t be easy: the two-time Pro Bowler and 2017 second-team All Pro is more than a renowned defensive end. Over the past two season, Lawrence has also served as a defensive team captain, signifying his leadership qualities as an eight-year Cowboys mainstay.
As much as Lawrence embodies this Cowboys defense, the reality is that he is out for the next two months with a broken foot, and there are multiple players who are going to have to fill in his cleats. The Cowboys need a comeback win against the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 2, and the defense must be able to apply pressure to a pass-proficient Justin Herbert.
Here are three Cowboys who need to play up their game while Lawrence sits out with his injury.
After passing on Aldon Smith earlier this year, the Dallas Cowboys “looked to add a quality edge rusher” when they signed former New York Jets OLB Tarell Basham.
Basham entered 2021 as Lawrence’s backup at left defensive end, and he’s the first at bat with Lawrence’s recent injury.
Basham only got two assisted tackles in his first Cowboys game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, a number that is frankly unacceptable given his 24 defensive snaps. Basham was present on 37 percent of defensive plays, meaning the fifth-year linebacker is going to have to create more of an impact in Week 2.
When Lawrence was in last week, he caused five total tackles and one forced fumble that brought the Cowboys within the margin of victory, so Basham is going to need to break through the Chargers offensive line for sacks and hit hard for forced fumbles when ball carriers head his way.
Hopefully 2021 third-round NFL Draft pick Osa Odighizuwa has overcome rookie hubris and is ready to play NFL football, because calling Tom Brady “not too mobile” ahead of their Week 1 game proved to be a mistake.
While Odighizuwa had the right idea of trying to force Brady out of the pocket, the execution wasn’t there: Brady threw for 379 yards, and Odighizuwa didn’t record a tackle after the first play of the game despite being in for 55 percent of snaps.
Perhaps it will be easier to throw the younger Herbert off his game, and Odighizuwa can focus on tackling instead of making bold media statements in Week 2.
Another talkative youngster on the defense, Micah Parsons, was picked apart by Tom Brady in the Week 1 opener, but the experience proved to be an eye-opening one for the 2021 No. 12 overall pick.
Micah Parsons says he learned the difference between good & great QB play going against Tom Brady tonight.
“You can tell he’s been in the league for 22 years, I’ll say that.”
— David Helman (@HelmanDC) September 10, 2021
After Parsons was fooled on a play action pass that left the rookie linebacker dazed and confused, he now heads into Week 2 with his share of “Welcome To The NFL” moments versus Brady.
Give Micah Parsons a map ????
— PFF (@PFF) September 10, 2021
Parsons recorded seven total tackles and a quarterback hit against Brady on 78 percent of defensive snaps. Before the Week 1 loss, Parsons already had an answer in the event he didn’t do well: “If I don’t, then it’s like ‘now I can learn and show that I belong here.'”
What Parsons does have going for him is that just last month, the Chargers offensive line was described as a “work in progress” in the Seattle Times.Internet Explorer Channel Network