- Starters: Maliek Collins, Stephen Paea
- Rotation: Cedric Thornton
- On deck: Tyrone Crawford, David Irving (Week 5)
- Key losses: Terrell McClain
There’s no doubt losing McClain stings, at least from a run stuffing perspective.
Free agency addition Paea is no slouch in that department. Yet McClain was a big part of clogging the middle for the NFL’s top rushing defense.
Paea’s bread and butter is explosive gap penetration and pressuring the pocket. McClain’s 2.5 sacks left a lot to be desired in that area.
If Paea can stay healthy (knee swelling), his pairing with an improved Collins will cause havoc in the middle.
These two will elevate interior pocket pressure, which is Kryptonite to quarterbacks.
Thornton is a worthy replacement on par with last year. I also expect T. Crawford or Irving to move inside once the suspended end rejoins the team.
In passing situations Dallas also shifts ends inside to add even more pressure.
Expect the interior run defense to dip a tad, while inside pass rush makes a big leap. Overall this unit is improved and will be a bright spot if Paea stays healthy.