When Nolan Carroll signed with Dallas, most were hoping for someone who could simply be a Brandon Carr replica. Carroll’s job was on the line in camp, but he never let anyone take it. Eventually keeping his starting gig into Week 1, he didn’t show anything that would relinquish that position.

Carroll looked like he had been playing in the defense for years. His veteran presence showed frequently on tape.

Let’s take a look at a play that sort of personifies his opening night performance. Eli Manning comes out of the play action wanting to hit #83.

Carroll, at the snap, opens up forcing the wide receiver inside. He then carries him just enough for Manning to have to hold the ball and come off of the read.

After Eli pumps to #83, Carroll passes him off to the safety as he sees the tight end sprinting to the flat with Manning eyeing him.

He reads the play and breaks towards the tight end which caused Manning to again come off that read.

Eli eventually dumps it off to another option for a minimal gain. Essentially Carroll’s awareness took away two players and reads to his side forcing a short gain.

This doesn’t look splashy and won’t show up in the box score but these type of plays were being made routinely by #24. Now he wasn’t tested much as much as he will be throughout the season, but he was very disciplined in this game and showed veteran awareness.

The Cowboys aren’t really asking him to do much other than to hold it down until the young bucks are ready to take over. But if Carroll can not only hold it down but also make things happen out there, it becomes a huge bonus to the Cowboys’ depth on the back end. It’s a long season with a lot of football to be played, but game one was an outstanding start for Nolan Carroll.

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