Dallas Cowboys Linebacker Corps Key To Victory Over Packers


The Dallas Cowboys defense will need to continue to play well if they want to advance to the NFC conference final next weekend. Standing in their way are the Green Bay Packers at home in frigid Lambeau Field. Although many will point to the ability to get an adequate, constant pass rush from the Cowboys’ defensive line as Dallas’ key to possible victory on Sunday, one pundit believes it will be the play of their linebacker corps that will have the most effect on the game’s outcome.

NFL.com Media Analyst Bucky Brooks recently broke down how the Cowboys’ could stop the Packers in an article that appeared on NFL.com earlier this week. In his analysis, on top of the Dallas’ defense playing fast, simple football and neutralizing Green Bay’s top recevier Jordy Nelson, Brooks believes unleashing the Cowboys’ linebacker corps in the middle of the field will be of vital importance in getting Dallas another playoff victory.

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"“Facing a Packers offense that could elect to run the ball early with Lacy to alleviate some of the pressure on Rodgers, McClain and Carter will need to be fixtures near the line of scrimmage following the snap. They must run through their assigned gaps on running plays and pursue like mad men when Lacy cuts back. Additionally, McClain and Carter must be able to hold up in coverage against the Packers’ fast-paced tactics. Rodgers will keep the Cowboys’ base defense on the field with a no-huddle approach, in an effort to exploit any weaknesses he spots in coverage. As a result, the Cowboys could be forced to play with their big bodies against the Packers’ spread sets. Consequently, the performance of the linebackers could determine whether the Cowboys are able to get off the field in critical situations.”"

One key issue right now with the Cowboys’ linebacker corps is health. Starting linebackers Rolando McClain and rookie Anthony Hitchens have both missed practices this week due to injury. McClain continues to wait for clearance from a concussion he suffered in Sunday’s Wild Card playoff victory over the Detroit Lions. Rolando is expected to practice on Friday.

Hitchens has been struggling with a high ankle sprain he suffered in the final game of the regular season, a win over the Washington Redskins. He played through the injury on Sunday against the Lions and is fully expected to play against the Packers this weekend. It is believe the Cowboys are simply playing it safe by resting Hitchens this week.

Finally, starting linebacker Bruce Carter is dealing with a knee injury of his own. But the Cowboys’ leader in interceptions this season (5) has been a full participant in all practices so far this week.

All three Cowboys’ linebackers appear to be on track to start on Sunday against the Packers. And they’ll certainly have their work cut out for them facing All-Pro quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the Packers’ high-powered offense at home.

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