Rod Marinelli defensive lines have always been categorized by one term: rotations. His tenure with the Dallas Cowboys has been no different.
Marinelli loves to rotate defensive linemen through the game, specifically on the interior. He’s also not one to pay big money to interior defensive linemen often. Instead, he will cycle through mid-round draft picks, undrafted free agents, and bargain-status veterans to piece together a group in his image.
And there’s no arguing with his results.
The latest of Marinelli’s guys to make a name for himself on the field was defensive tackle Antwaun Woods. Barely talked about heading into 2018, Woods competed during training camp and preseason to earn his spot on the Cowboys defensive line. Before long he was not only the starting 1-technique, but also making a big impact every week.
This offseason, though, the Cowboys placed an emphasis on adding talent to their defensive line. On the interior they signed former Texans tackle Christian Covington, and drafted UCF’s Trysten Hill in the second round. At defensive end they traded for Robert Quinn, and added former Detroit Lion Kerry Hyder.
All of these new faces bring increased competition for Woods, but he is certainly not shying away from the challenge.
“It’s the name of the business: Every year they’re trying to replace us. Every year they bring guys in to take our job, and it’s what makes us better.” – Antwaun Woods, via DallasCowboys.com
Woods finished 2018 with 34 tackles, 5 QB hits, and 1.5 sacks, but his impact certainly felt even bigger than those numbers would indicate. Woods brought an energy and attitude to the defensive line that they had been missing in recent years. And when on the field with defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence, that energy was furthered even more.
Still, it’s true that Woods and his teammates were thoroughly controlled by the Rams offensive line during their Divisional round playoff loss. The Cowboys needed to add talent to the interior of their defensive line, and it would seem they accomplished this goal.
If Woods can beat out these newcomers and retain his starting spot, then it’s all the better for a Cowboys team which could use the increased competition and hunger across their defensive line.