As the Dallas Cowboys continue to monitor free agency and prepare themselves for May’s draft the theme for the team remains the same, find a way to improve the defense. More specifically, fix the defensive line.
A lot of work has already been done to improve the defense over last year’s which ranked last all time in franchise history. The rearrangement of the defensive coaching staff, the release of DeMarcus Ware, and the singing of Henry Melton, Jeremey Mincey and Terrell McCain highlight the moves made so far this season.
Injuries plagued Dallas constantly last season and one player the team will be relying heavily on as he returns from injured reserve is Tyrone Crawford.
After suffering an Achilles injury on the first play in training camp last season, the former third round pick promises to play a vital role in Dallas’ defense in 2014.
By all accounts Crawford has been tenacious in his recovery and is frequently seen at Valley Ranch working out and performing rehab.
Head coach Jason Garrett addressed the media while attending the leagues yearly meetings in Orlando, Florida last week and had this to say about Crawford’s return.
“He has really good versatility. We are going to look at the landscape of our defensive line and see where he fits in. We really think he can play all four spots. We will use him in a couple of different spots certainly. We want to get him into a role, into a position where he is most comfortable and get his body right. We will make that determination here relatively soon. He has been doing everything he needs to do coming out of his rehab and we’re excited to get him back on April 21.”
It is crucial to Dallas that Crawford return healthy and take the step in his progression he was poised to make last year. His high motor and relentless playing style are not only important to his production on the field, but it is also something the rest of the defensive can feed off of and model their own play after.
In the style of defense the Cowboys want to play, one of the most important aspects’ is having a large number of pass rushers rotating throughout a game so that the players rushing the passer are as fresh as possible. Everyone along the defensive front is trying to penetrate and get up field. Crawford’s versatility will allow the Cowboys to line him up wherever they want on passing downs to exploit mismatches.
There has been a lot made over the importance the Cowboys need to place in adding talent to this defense but it also needs its players coming back from injury to stay healthy.
Sean Lee, Bruce Carter, Morris Claiborne, DeVonte Holloman, and J.J Wilcox all missed games last season due to injury and just like Crawford the team needs these players to remain healthy if the team wants to get better.
This core of young defensive talent is what Dallas needs to build upon as they put together next year’s roster, but they have to do a better job of preventing injuries across the board if they want to be competitive.
Crawford’s return will mean next to nothing if the team suffers injuries like it has in the past. Until he actually suits up and plays his next NFL game, Tyrone’s recovery and development only amounts to speculation.
He is still a young player, and has proven next to nothing on the NFL level, but Tyrone Crawford’s return is a bright sign. It won’t be too long before fans get to see just how much his hard work to get healthy has paid off.
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