5 Cowboys on the hot seat entering the NFL Playoffs

• A forgotten WR

• Injuries in the secondary ramp up the pressure

• Playing QB for the Cowboys leads to criticism

Dallas Cowboys
Dallas Cowboys / Patrick Smith/GettyImages
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3. DaRon Bland, CB

DaRon Bland was a fifth-round pick last year out of Fresno State — where he played for just one year after starting his career at Sacramento State. He joined a crowded defensive backfield but still made his way to the roster and wound up making eight starts while appearing in all 17 games. He wound up leading the team in interceptions, recording five as a rookie.

This year, he again found himself playing with a lot of talent around him as Trevon Diggs was returning with a massive new contract. The Cowboys also traded for Stephon Gilmore, putting an experienced veteran across from Diggs. Bland was originally the third corner but when Diggs suffered a season-ending injury ahead of Week 3, Bland was moved to the No. 2 corner.

Since then, he's been playing out of his mind. He was the No. 2 cornerback in the NFL according to PFF entering the finale and solidified his spot when he recorded his league-leading ninth interception of the year.

In addition to leading the NFL with nine picks, he also returned five of them for touchdowns. Not only is that the most in the league this year but it's the most any player has ever recorded in a single season.

As impressive as he's been, the heat could be on for Bland in the playoffs. During their win over the Commanders, Gilmore suffered a shoulder injury and was unable to return to the game. If he's out in the playoffs, that means Bland is going to be the No. 1 cornerback. He struggled against DK Metcalf earlier this year and could feel the heat when asked to take on the opposing team's No. 1 wideout in the postseason.