Dallas Cowboys: Antwaun Woods arrest highlights troubled position

Following the recent arrest of Antwaun Woods, the Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle position comes under the spotlight once again as a troubled position.

When the Dallas Cowboys final injury report was released on Wednesday, it listed three defensive starters who were officially designated as out and would not be able to take the field against the Chicago Bears on Thursday night. Those starters being safety Jeff Heath (shoulder/shoulder), linebacker Leighton Vander Esch (neck), and defensive tackle Antwaun Woods (knee).

These three defenders were unable to participate in any of the Cowboys practice sessions this week following the team’s loss to the Buffalo Bills on Thanksgiving. But it now appears Woods, who also missed the holiday matchup, could be in for an extended absence following an arrest on Tuesday.

According to NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport, Woods was arrested during a traffic stop by the Frisco Police Department and charged with possession of marijuana (over 2 ounces but less than 4 ounces), tampering with evidence, and cited for possession of paraphernalia.

Per Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, the possession charge is considered a misdemeanor in the state of Texas, while the tampering charge apparently falls under the felony category.

It is likely that Woods will face a league suspension for the arrest, which only further highlights the troubled defensive tackle position in Dallas. With Rod Marinelli as defensive coordinator, the one-technique position along the interior of the defensive line continues to be undervalued.

The truth is, the run-stopping defensive tackle position, also known as the one-tech or nose tackle position, is one the Cowboys believe they can fill literally off the street. That’s where they originally found Woods last offseason after he had been waived by the Tennessee Titans last May.

Undrafted out of USC in 2016, Woods signed with the Titans as a rookie free agent. He spent two years as a member of their practice squad, playing in a single regular-season game before landing in Dallas.

Suddenly, the 6-foot-1, 310-pound defensive tackle found himself starting for America’s Team, recording 34 tackles and 1.5 sacks as a 15-game starter in 2018. Pro Football Focus gave Woods an overall grade of 71.1 last year. That’s dropped to a disappointing 56.1 grade this season.

Woods has missed a total of four games due to a knee injury this year with Thursday night being his fifth. Free-agent acquisition Christian Covington will likely replace Woods along the starting lineup with others like defensive lineman Maliek Collins and Michael Bennett rotating in.

What once was considered an underdog story could quickly turn into a tragedy for the Dallas Cowboys. And while the three-technique defensive tackle position continues to get all the love in Big D, with the investment of two Day Two draft selections made since 2016 (Collins, Trysten Hill), the position directly beside it continues to be all but ignored.

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