Dallas Cowboys training camp is finally here and it’s time for the players to grow as a team, hone their talents, and work to get better in order to get to the top of the mountain top once again. During this time, it’s also up to the coaching staff and front office to answer a lot of pressing questions about gaps and holes on this roster.
One of the biggest topics for the Cowboys this offseason was who would fill the hole left by defensive end Randy Gregory after he bailed on the team for Denver over contract language.
The Cowboys’ front office has made an effort to try and protect themselves by re-signing defensive end Dorance Armstrong and signing free agent Dante Fowler Jr. They also drafted a freak athlete in Ole Miss defensive end Sam Williams in the second round of this year’s draft.
Now with a solid core of players that can play right defensive end, the Cowboys coaching staff needs to determine who will be the main guy to play opposite left defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence.
That is going to be a bit more difficult with each player having different sets of skills that can help this Dan Quinn-led defense coming off one of the best seasons in the team’s history. Let’s run through the traits of each option and see why they could or won’t make the starting lineup.
Taking a look at the 3 defensive end options the Cowboys have to line up alongside DeMarcus Lawrence
1. Dorance Armstrong
Games Started: 8 / Games Played: 59
Career Stats: 98 total tackles, 7.5 sacks, 6 tackles for loss, 2 forced fumbles, 1 touchdown
Armstrong from the outside looks like the beneficiary of the Cowboys’ loss of Gregory in free agency, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Armstrong, while having limited playing time due to his position on the roster, has been a productive player for the Cowboys. He’s got good burst coming off the line and gets on top of offensive tackles quickly in order to set up his pass rush moves — moves that over the years have gotten better and better.
Last season under Quinn, Armstrong put together his best season in the league and you can’t help but think that the Cowboys are anxious to see if he makes another jump in production if given the opportunity to start for them. Besides his ever-improving pass rush skills, Armstrong is a very good run defender for this team which will only boost his stock with the coaching staff.
But it’s not all rainbows and sunshine when Armstrong is on the field, though. There are quite a few times where you see he has a difficult time with offensive tackles with above-average athletic ability.
Remember when I said he’s got a good burst coming off the line? Well, good isn’t great and when you put him up against these other two contenders for that starting right defensive end spot, both have that great burst off the line. So if Armstrong wants to solidify his place on this roster and become their new starter, he will need to show that his ability to rush the passer has improved but also continue to stand out as an excellent run defender.