A Dallas Cowboys defender fans must watch in Week Two

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 06: A Dallas Cowboys fan and a Cleveland Browns fan cheer during the game at FirstEnergy Stadium on November 6, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 06: A Dallas Cowboys fan and a Cleveland Browns fan cheer during the game at FirstEnergy Stadium on November 6, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /

Dallas Cowboys fans must watch this key defender when America’s Team takes on the Denver Broncos in their Week Two matchup.

Leading up to their Week 1 encounter with the New York Giants last week, one of the biggest questions was which Dallas Cowboys‘ pass rusher would get pressure on opposing quarterback Eli Manning. The Giants offense had looked awful for the entire preseason and in missing all-world wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr., the Dallas defense was poised for a big night.

But who would get pressure upfront?

The name mentioned most often was fourth-year defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence.

It seems like the last time I saw Lawrence make a big play was near the end of that NFC wildcard playoff victory against the Detroit Lions following the 2014 regular season. Lawrence was a rookie that year who had done little to justify his second-round selection in the 2014 NFL Draft up until that point.

Yet there was Lawrence wrapping up Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford on a hold-your-breath fourth down pass attempt that resulted in both a sack and a fumble that the former Boise State star recovered himself.

Just a few plays earlier, Lawrence has recovered another Stafford fumble caused by pass rusher Anthony Spencer, but he fumbled the ball right back to the Lions and risked turning a game-winning play into a game-losing play.

Those closing seconds of Dallas’ last playoff win are a microcosm of Lawrence’s career. In other words, one step forward then one step back.

There’s never been any doubt regarding Lawrence’s physique for football. Coming out of Boise State he was a tad undersized, but he now possesses the ideal combination of strength, weight and speed to play with his hand on the ground. At 6’3” and a chiseled 265 pounds, Lawrence has gained about 15 pounds of pure muscle and this seems to be serving him well in 2017.

Lawrence needed just five minutes of regular season football this season to equal his entire output last season. He needed just five seconds of the second half last Sunday night to double his sack total posted a year ago.

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Lawrence was outstanding all the way around. The two sacks were great, but there was also more pressure coming from Lawrence. He blew up a screen pass in the first half and was a frequent disruption in the New York backfield.

Week 2 should offer more of the same for Lawrence, and the rest of the Dallas Cowboys defensive front, for that matter. The Denver Broncos offensive line may not be in tip-top shape at Sports Authority Field on Sunday.

Former Cowboys guard Ron Leary has been out of practice this week in concussion protocol, and let’s keep in mind that Los Angeles Chargers edge rushers Joey Bosa, Melvin Ingram and Chris McCain posted a total of four sacks against Broncos right tackle Menelik Watson, a second-round draft choice himself who didn’t inspire a second contract from the Oakland Raiders.

Watson is exactly who Lawrence should see himself lined up across for most of his plays this weekend and a simple look at Broncos vs. Chargers Week 1 highlights will clearly illustrate how  Watson can be beaten with speed.

Lawrence is in a contract year and he’s healthy, something he wasn’t a year ago. He’s made it beyond a suspension and is playing for a big payday following this season, whether it be with the Dallas Cowboys or elsewhere.

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Needing one more victory before starting to get some key defensive linemen back from other suspensions, DeMarcus Lawrence again needs to be that ‘war daddy’ edge rusher who can turn a football game around. It’s a limited sample so far in ’17, but so far so good.