The Dallas Cowboys defense looked solid in Saturday’s preseason game against the St. Louis Rams. In fact, in the last three preseason games, the starting defense has yet to allow even one touchdown. Even without their top pass rusher, DeMarcus Ware, the Cowboys’ starting defense only allowed the Rams two field goals.
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On Saturday, three defensive players returned from injuries to hold their own: DT Jay Ratliff, OLB Anthony Spencer, and DT Jason Hatcher. Ratliff and Hatcher each had one tackle, and Spencer had three. Defensive Coordinator Rob Ryan delivered some blitzes to which the defensive starters responded beautifully. Veteran linebacker Sean Lee said of Ryan, “We all get hyped up trying to run pressures because we know how smart he is, and we have a good shot at getting there.” The results of Ryan’s plans were four sacks from each level of defense – outside linebacker, inside linebacker, defensive end, and cornerback.
Despite how well the defense has looked this preseason, there is still work to be done. As much as we Cowboys fans hate to admit it, the New York Giants offense won’t be easy to stop. “We’re going to have to play well,” Lee said, “and if we don’t give up a touchdown then, then that means something.” There is also concern as to whether DT Jay Ratliff will be back from a reported high ankle sprain. Ratliff may be out 2 – 4 weeks.
Rookie cornerback Morris Claiborne said the defense has “a long way to go.” As for him, he may be one of the only starting players on defense to play during this Wednesday’s preseason game against the Miami Dolphins. After missing so much time in the off season and in training camp with his injuries, giving Claiborne more practice time could prove to be valuable. Coach Jason Garrett said, “He needs snaps at this level covering NFL receivers in game time situations.”
To prepare for the regular season opener against the Giants, Lee says the “little details” need some cleaning up. “We’re right on the verge. I think this week and a half, we really have to take advantage of getting our bodies right, getting in the weight room, and taking care of your body. I think we’ve gotten better each week, but if we’re going to play the Giants and be successful against a really good team, then we’re going to have to have all the details cleaned up.”