Cowboys News: Former Dallas defender inks big extension, Tyler Smith's brutal first pitch

Wild Card Round - Seattle Seahawks v Dallas Cowboys
Wild Card Round - Seattle Seahawks v Dallas Cowboys / Ronald Martinez/GettyImages

For years, the Dallas Cowboys chose against investing in the interior of the defensive line. While some talented players have come and gone, it's reassuring they've changed their philosophy by drafting Mazi Smith in the first round.

Last year was a prime example.

While the Cowboys had a cavalcade of capable pass rushers -- including Micah Parsons, DeMarcus Lawrence, Sam Williams, Dante Fowler and Dorance Armstrong -- Osa Odighizuwa and Johnathan Hankins were their only consistent interior defenders until Chauncey Golston emerged while Hankins missed time.

In fairness, Carlos Watkins gave them good snaps, too. There was a groundswell of sadness on Twitter after Watkins signed with Arizona this offseason.

The position still isn't deep, but Smith's pedigree as a run stopper should go a long way toward strengthening a major weakness.

Once upon a time, Maliek Collins occupied the trenches in Dallas. Collins played his entire rookie contract with the Cowboys before leaving in free agency. He's since found a stable home in Houston and was rewarded with a two-year, $23 million extension from the franchise.

Former Cowboys DT Maliek Collins lands extension with Texans

Cowboys fans have to feel good for Collins, who was highly productive over his four seasons in Dallas. He notched five sacks as a rookie and was always good for close to double-digit QB hits and a handful of tackles for loss.

Collins had a down year in 2020 with the Raiders, but he bounced back with a 71.0 pass-rush grade and 31 pressures in 2021 with the Texans, per Pro Football Focus. Last season, Collins posted a career-high with 37 tackles and 37 pressures to go with a 76.1 pass-rush grade, 28 hurries and 26 defensive stops.

It's great to see former Cowboys draft picks thrive with other teams.

In other Cowboys news, Tyler Smith threw out the first pitch before the Rangers' clash against the Angels on Thursday.

It was a big game for Texas, which had its de facto ace Nathan Eovaldi on the mound (with Jacob deGrom injured) against two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani. A North Crowley native, Smith's pitch went viral for all the wrong reasons as he tossed an airmail that sailed over the catcher's head to the backstop.

Luckily for the Cowboys, Smith's offensive line footwork and technique blows away his pitching mechanics. The Rangers came up short in the pitcher's duel, as Ohtani cranked a two-run home run in the eighth to give the Angels a needed cushion to close out the game.

The good news is Texas still sit in first place in the AL West and there's still plenty of season left for Smith to redeem himself.

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