Defensive end Tarell Basham has been activated from injured reserve after missing seven games due to a knee injury suffered during the Cowboys' Week 1 loss to Tampa Bay. Last season, the run stopper proved to be an important weapon for the Cowboys defense. He appeared in all 17 games in 2021 and recorded 39 tackles and 3.5 sacks. Basham has reached the end of his 21-day practice window just in time to provide much needed defensive support as the Cowboys prepare to face several of the top running backs in the NFL.
Here's a rundown (no pun intended) of the RBs the Cowboys will need to prepare for in the coming weeks:
- This Sunday in Green Bay, Pro-Bowler Aaron Jones is expected to take the field despite suffering an ankle injury in Week 9. Jones' 5.6 yards per carry is the 12th highest average among NFL running backs.
- The following week, when the Cowboys visit Minnesota, they will face Dalvin Cook whose 608 total yards and 5 touchdowns place him at 10th in the league in both categories.
- When the Cowboys return home in Week 12, they will host the New York Giants whose star RB Saquon Barkley has been mentioned in league MVP conversations and who is also a heavy favorite for Comeback Player of the Year. Barkley's 779 total yards give him the third highest total among league rushers.
- A week later, when the Colts come to town, they will bring RB Jonathan Taylor who led the league last year in rushing attempts, total yards, total touchdowns, and longest rush.
- In Weeks 14 and 15, the Cowboys will face the Texans' Dameon Pierce followed by the Jaguars' Travis Etienne who sit at 6th and 5th respectively in total rushing yards.
- Week 16 brings the much anticipated re-match against the Philadelphia Eagles whose run game presented challenges for the Cowboys defense during their first matchup of this season. The Eagles accrued 136 rushing yards during that game, led by Miles Sanders who is 7th in the league with 656 total rushing yards.
- Then, in their second to last regular season game, the Cowboys will visit the Tennessee Titans in Nashville and will hopefully have a plan for stopping Derrick Henry who is first in the league in both rushing attempts (183 attempts) and yards (870 total yards). His nine touchdowns are the 2nd most in the NFL.
Where numbers sit currently, the Cowboys are allowing 135.1 rushing yards per game, the ninth highest average rushing allowance in the league. Head coach Mike McCarthy made clear in his Wednesday press conference that he is aware of this issue with his defense and understands the importance of improving. He explained, “We understand that when people look at our defense, it's like, ‘Hey, we've got to try to run the ball on these guys.'” McCarthy later added, “Our run defense will be critical because it puts us in favorable down-and-distance to do what we do best, and that's obviously rushing the passer.”