After an NFL Draft that left the Dallas Cowboys with only one immediate impact defensive player in Boise State defensive end Demarcus Lawrence, the Cowboys are relying on current players who are returning from injury now more than ever. And the key piece to revitalizing this 8-8 team could very well be injured defensive end Tyrone Crawford.
The Cowboys defense ranked dead last in the NFL last season. And this offseason brought upon the exodus of All-Pro defensive lineman DeMarcus Ware and Jason Hatcher. In response, Dallas signed All-Pro defensive tackle Henry Melton and defensive end Anthony Spencer. And that was despite both players coming off major season-ending injuries themselves.
But it’s Crawford return that I believe has the Cowboys defensive coaches the most excited. The 2012 third round pick out of Boise State suffered a devastating Achilles injury during the first full day of training camp last year, which landed him on the dreaded Injured Reserve list before the season even began. In a recent interview with Gina Miller, Crawford seemed cautiously optimistic about his rehabilitation.
“My injury is coming along well. I’m doing a lot of running, sprinting and cutting. I should be back by OTA’s. But, you never know.”
One of the things that has the Cowboys coaching staff excited by Crawford’s return is his positional flex. They believe he can play any position along the defensive line and be effective. But the coaches are still deciding where they want to plug in the third-year player. But when asked, Crawford already knows which position he’d like to play.
“Preferably, defensive end. but if it’s defensive tackle, I can get down there and play fast…(But defensive end) is what I played in college. And that’s what I started learning in junior college.”
Then Crawford said something interesting towards the end of his interview with Miller. When asked if he’s ready to replace a great player like Ware, he respectfully responded:
“Oh yeah. I’m definitely ready. I’m ready to do whatever these coaches ask of me. Like I said, DeMarcus Ware is huge shoes to fill. But I’m definitely ready to step in. I know they are not going to put me at right end. But if they did, I’d be ready to step in there and do the best I can, make things happen.”
So, there appears to be one position the Cowboys coaching staff isn’t considering Crawford for: right defensive end. With the addition of Spencer and Lawrence, that’s not exactly breaking news. Still, Crawford is the same player that the departed All-Pro Hatcher said could be a Pro Bowler on this defense. One thing is for sure: Crawford must play a critical role on this defense if Dallas is going to get over the postseason hump in 2014.
Watch the entire interview below. And our thanks goes out to That Sports Girl for posting the interview.