Following the Dallas Cowboys second preseason game against the Baltimore Ravens, the battle determining who will replaced lost middle linebacker Sean Lee is really starting to heat up. What was a camp battle between four players has seemingly been dwindled down to just two: veteran linebacker Justin Durant and the enigma that is Rolando McClain. And the race is closer than ever.
Durant was signed by the Cowboys to a two-year deal as a free agent in 2013 after recording a career-high 103 tackles the previous season as a member of the Detroit Lions. But he struggled with injuries last season that limited his play to only 10 games. And Durant recorded just 24 tackles in that time span. The eight-year veteran could have easily been a cap-causality this offseason if it wasn’t for the Lee injury in May. Now, Durant is the favorite to win the Cowboys starting middle linebacker role. Although his play hasn’t been spectacular, Durant has been consistent. And the role requires a certain amount of poise and leadership, which Durant has certainly displayed this offseason.
Despite Durant’s solid play, it’s been newly acquired linebacker Rolando McClain getting all the press. The former first round pick has had a roller coaster career since entering the league back in 2010. After three somewhat underwhelming seasons for the Oakland Raiders, McClain was released and instantly signed by Baltimore. Two retirements later, the former Alabama stand out has now landed in Dallas. In his debut on Saturday night against the Ravens, McClain led the Cowboys in tackles with six. He also had an uncredited forced fumble followed by a pass defended on a third down that forced Baltimore into a field goal attempt late in the first half.
It’s fairly clear the Cowboys organization wants McClain to win this job over Durant. And if he can improve on his play from Saturday night, which includes making the calls and communicating effectively, then McClain should have a good chance of doing just that. Whether that move will actually improve this horrid Dallas defense is a different story entirely. But what do you think? Who will win the battle for middle linebacker in Dallas? Leave your vote below and feel free to add to the conversation in our comment section.