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Cowboys’ CB Chidobe Awuzie Impressive In First Full-Time Action

Brian Martin

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If I'm being completely honest, there was really only one reason I was looking forward to watching the Dallas Cowboys play the Washington Redskins Thursday night. I wanted to see how rookie cornerback Chidobe Awuzie played now that he is finally healthy.

I don't know about you, but I was expecting a lot from Chidobe Awuzie this season after the Cowboys drafted him with their second round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. Unfortunately, he has battled reoccurring hamstring issues that has all but wiped out his season up to this point. His inability to stay healthy and get on the field has been one of the major disappointments for me this season.

That is why I was really looking forward to seeing Awuzie back on the field in his first full-time action this season. Luckily, he didn't disappoint and already looks like arguably the best CB on the Cowboys roster.

The Dallas Cowboys played a total of 60 defensive snaps against the Redskins Thursday night. Only Jeff Heath (56) played more snaps than Chidobe Awuzie (53). Awuzie finished the night with three tackles and three pass breakups, which doesn't seem like much, but his impact was definitely felt on the field.

Let's take a look at the impact the 22-year-old rookie out of Colorado made against the Washington Redskins Thursday night.

Marcus Mosher on Twitter

This is pretty good coveragwe by #Cowboys rookie DB Chidobe Awuzie. Watch him swipe at the ball at the end of this play. https://t.co/cR4B8MCZBW

The clip above is an excellent example of Awuzie's talent and awareness. Not only is he in perfect position by having the WR in his hip pocket, but he goes up to high point the ball and swipes with his hand to ensure an incompletion. This couldn't have possibly been played better, which is a testament to #33's talent.

Let's take a look at another example of Awuzie's impact in the game against Washington.

Marcus Mosher on Twitter

Chidobe Awuzie played one heckuva game. https://t.co/l4FcEoD0tH

Awuzie wasn't in the best position against Josh Doctson on this play and it should have been an easy completion. But, Chidobe doesn't give up on the play and is able to knock the ball out of Doctson's hands forcing the incompletion and near fumble. This is a great example of Awuzie's awareness and playmaking ability. But, he made an even better play a little later in the game.

Marcus Mosher on Twitter

More of Chidobe Awuzie in his first start. https://t.co/mZCn4xTzVr

On this particular play Chidobe Awuzie looks to be in man coverage on Redskins WR Ryan Grant. Awuzie recognizes that Grant is breaking off his route to the inside to try to pick up the first down. He quickly plants his foot in the ground and makes a beeline for Grant arriving just as the ball does. Awuzie uses proper technique and sticks his left arm out to break up the pass, while using his right arm to wrap around Grant for the tackle if need be.

As you can see, Chidobe Awuzie had a heck of a debut as a full-time starter. In fact, he already looks like the best CB currently on the Cowboys roster. This probably couldn't have come at a better time with Orlando Scandrick expected to miss some time due to a back injury he sustained and played through Thursday night.

If Awuzie can remain healthy the rest of the season, he upgrades the entire Cowboys secondary and improves the entire defense. I'm personally expecting big things from him the remainder of the season.

What did you think of Chidobe Awuzie's full-time debut?



Level C2/C3 quadriplegic. College graduate with a bachelors degree in sports and health sciences-concentration sports management. Sports enthusiast. Dallas Cowboys fanatic. Lover of life with a glass half-full point of view.

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42 Comments
  • Andy Walker

    I wish you all the best, Brian! Awuzie looked outstanding. He has great closing speed as well!

    • pdstix78

      Dude looked good last night, like a godsend. Keep AB on the bench and they’ll be fine

      • Brian Martin

        I think Anthony Brown might end up in the slot. I think that’s his better position anyway.

        • Albert Smith

          Yeah, my thoughts exactly Brian, possibly in the slot with Cheedo and Lew on the outside. They’ll probably still have some sort of rotation though.

          • Brian Martin

            It looks like they might play Byron Jones more at CB as well.

          • Albert Smith

            I’ve been waiting and wanting that because I felt he had too much of a load on him. Fan’s have been upset with his play but it’s because they wouldn’t just put him in one spot, it’s great he can do multiple things but sometimes you just let players play and draft accordingly I thought he could be a great boundary CB with his size and athleticism so I’m down.

          • Brian Martin

            I haven’t really had a problem with his play at safety. He is definitely more of a coverage player than a hitter, but I don’t have a problem with that. I do think he might be better at CB, but we will have to wait and see.

          • Albert Smith

            Agreed

          • Brian Martin
          • Assassin

            always thought Jones was out of position at FS. seems more natural to CB. Hopefully we’ll see some of that before the end of the year and a lot next year. this is his third year, contracts up at the end of 18 unless we take the club option. also hes been the slot guy/te cover before. with Scandrick out, maybe thats part of what he does

          • Brian Martin

            I think Jones should’ve been playing the single high safety where he can use his range and athleticism.

          • Tommy Davis

            Good stuff folks, Awuzie and J. Lewis are excellent on the outside, Scanrick and Brown are not good covering outside receivers and are both best suited covering the slot receivers. Jones has been playing out of position, he should have been playing deep safety instead of J. Heath who does not have closing speed and misses too many tackles. Woods is a good cover safety, but he’s too small for my liking. We have talented D.backs, we just need to put them in the correct positions and play the most talented instead of the most experienced. Scanrick, Heath,Jones and Brown are the most experienced and are the reason for the awful play of the secondary. Jerry Jones commented that when Awuzie, Lewis, and Woods were on the field together, the secondary was awesome. There is no reason that this should not be the norm going forward.

          • Brian Martin
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      • Brian Martin
    • Brian Martin

      Thanks Andy. Awuzie did look pretty good. I just hope he is able to keep it up and stay healthy. He definitely makes the defense better.

    • Brian Martin
  • Hobbes49

    Awuzie played really strong last night. I think he and Lewis have a chance to be a top 5 CB tandem in the coming years. Chido has great recognition skills, and reacts to the ball better than we have seen in a long while. Just needs to stay healthy.

    • Brian Martin

      I really liked what I saw from Awuzie. I think he would’ve been a starter the entire season if he would’ve been able to stay healthy. It’s definitely starting to look as if the Cowboys succeeded in making over their secondary, at least at the CB position.

      • Michael Barthel

        I love what I saw from awuzie played a hell of a game but I want to see what he does against better receivers. Dotson isn’t bad but he not the greatest either. I want to see him week 15 against either Cooper or Crabtree.

        • Brian Martin

          I don’t see him having any problems with either Cooper or Crabtree. I don’t know if they’re that much better then Doctson, just more experienced.

          • Michael Barthel

            Cooper is just having a bad year but he is very good. Awuzie scandrick and Lewis should start from here on out. Also like to see Marquez white too he was outstanding at Florida State. I believe Dallas gets rid of dez or ask for a pay cut. I think we draft a wide receiver. Off subject sorry lol but I think we will see alot of personell changes next year. New receivers corners safeties and linebackers. This defense can be very good if we play the way we played last night and the rotations. I think Benson mawoya is gone next year. I think you will see the depth get better next year. Hitchens Lawrence Irving Morris all need resigned that way they can focus on backup offensive lineman linebackers receivers and secondary in free agency and draft

          • Brian Martin

            Cooper is having a pretty bad year, but he has always had a problem with drops. I don’t know what to think about Dez Bryant. I don’t really think he has lost a step, but the production is there. And you’re right, I think we will see a lot of personnel changes.

      • Brian Martin
    • Brian Martin
  • Steve Johnson

    Waiting for Woods and Lewis to turn the page also it is coming.

  • Russ_Te

    It was thought at draft that Awuzie was a 1st round value, and largely made up for what may have been a reach with Taco.

    However with Irving proving a dominant force at DT and Lawrence possibly cashing in his year in free agency, next year’s DL might include Taco starting at LDE. He looks trimmer to me than his college scouting clips, and Lawrence’s rise proves it’s all about mastering technique. So I am now thinking Taco
    can prove out.

    Back to the secondary. We saw how a shuffle facilitated by Awuzie’s return, can make a major difference. For me the next best thing to see besides Awuzie’s play was Frazier’s. He can hit, and there is a lot of possible upside relative to what we have had with Heath.

    Scandrick flipped to outside CB while Jones worked the slot. I think that is reversed from what they will settle on. You need to start Woods at FS, and deploy Scandrick at his optimal slot CB position. That would put Jones at CB, and he has the talent to do it well IMO. I think he was moved inside too quickly in his career and didn’t get a full look at CB.

    If Jones were good outside this could be a quality starting 4. Brown is looking like a dime corner, and we don’t know much yet about Lewis.

    With offseason needs at OT, WR, RDE and LB, the secondary may only get another big talent if such a player falls down the draft. But seeing the boost it got from Awuzie was more than a welcome sight.

  • Raul Hernandez

    This guy looks like a cheetah on steroids when he is closing the gap between him and an offensive player. He’s talented and reads the offense like a book.

  • Emilio Gonzalez

    He played really good and wish him only the best he will be the upgrade Cowboys need it at the CB position. Thanks we need some fresh blood.

Player News

MRI Negative on Cowboys G Zack Martin’s Knee Injury

Jess Haynie

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Zack Martin

The Dallas Cowboys saw a few guys go down in last night's preseason game, but none scarier than All-Pro guard Zack Martin. Thankfully, they got some good news today on Martin's status.

An MRI of the knee showed no major injury, and that means Zack should be good to go for the team's regular season opener in three weeks.

David Moore on Twitter

Cowboys have received results of Zack Martin's MRI & it's encouraging. Source said there's no significant injury to left knee & he could be ready for opener against Carolina on Sept. 9.

Last week, Dallas lost one of their likely reserve guards when Marcus Martin went on injured reserve after the first preseason game. That leaves just Joe Looney as the only trusted reserve right now for the interior line.

But even though Looney has played well at times when called upon, he's no Zack Martin. In fact, only a couple of guys in the entire NFL can claim to be on that level.

Sprains and other non-major injuries to the knee tend to fall into the 2-4 week range for recovery. Barring complications, Martin should be ready to take on the Panthers' Kawann Short, Dontari Poe, and others.

We're still waiting for updates on other key players who were injured last night, such as Safety Xavier Woods, Running Back Bo Scarbrough, and Defensive Lineman Datone Jones. We'll get those to you as they are announced.

Hopefully, they all get the same good news that Zack Martin did today.



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Player News

Zack Martin, Xavier Woods Suffer Preseason Injuries, Cowboys Down 2 Starters

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Cowboys' Eyeing Training Camp To Extend Zack Martin's Contract

Last Saturday night didn't end well for the Dallas Cowboys, who saw multiple players go down throughout the game, most notably Zack Martin and Xavier Woods. Preseason injuries are always the more painful ones, and when we're talking about someone like Martin, it just makes it worse.

Martin suffered a knee injury and was ruled out after going down. ESPN's Todd Archer tweeted out that a source had claimed the injury was a hyper-extended left knee. This surely would be great news considering the fear right now is a season-ending injury.

Todd Archer on Twitter

A source said the initial diagnosis of Zack Martin is a hyperextended left knee, but he will undergo an MRI on Sunday. The Cowboys do not practice again until Monday and play Aug. 26 against the Arizona Cardinals. Depending on the severity of the... https://t.co/1MPbJfQph8

Zack is set to have an MRI on Sunday and the team is hopeful the injury isn't that serious. We probably won't see the All-Pro left guard return in the preseason but could see him back on the field as soon as September 9th when the Cowboys kick their season off at Carolina.

Besides Zack Martin being the best offensive guard in the NFL, the Cowboys' offensive line depth is definitely not good. If his injury proves to be worse than what the front office believes, this offense will have to play without arguably their best player.

As we nervously await more news on Martin's knee, there are more injured players to talk about.

Xavier Woods injured his hamstring as he made an effort to intercept the ball and was also ruled out for the game. We still don't know about the severity, but we do know it's the same hamstring that he dealt with last year.

Although Woods isn't anywhere near Zack Martin as a football player, his injury comes at the team's weakest position in depth. Jeff Heath, Kavon Frazier and Xavier Woods are the Cowboys' only legitimate safeties that will earn a roster spot.

If the hamstring injury is serious enough to keep him sidelined for multiple weeks, we could see the Cowboys getting outside help for the defensive backfield. Whether that means trading for Earl Thomas, some other safety or looking at the free agents available, I don't see the team going into the season with two safeties on the roster.

For now, we need to wait for more results regarding both of these players who will be detrimental to this team's success in 2018. The Cowboys suffered more injuries than these ones, though.

Saad Yousuf on Twitter

And the injuries continue... Jameill Showers is down on the Cowboys sideline with what looks like a knee injury. Still down. Duke Thomas Datone Jones Bo Scarbrough Xavier Woods and the big one, Zack Martin That's the injury list for the Cowboys tonight.

Datone Jones has been impressive during his stay in Dallas and is a quality DT and was ruled out for the game after getting tangled up with the Bengal's offensive line. Seventh-round draft pick Bo Scarbrough suffered a hip injury and is apparently not severe either.

Compared to Woods' and Martin's injuries, these ones won't keep Cowboys' fans up at night. However, hopefully they all turn out to be okay and ready to play as soon as possible. The team's starters make this team a legit threat in the NFC, but when it comes to depth, they're not in a good position.

Tell me what you think about "Zack Martin, Xavier Woods Suffer Preseason Injuries, Cowboys Down 2 Starters" in the comments below, or tweet me @PepoR99 and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!



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Game Notes

Sean’s Scout: Starting Front 7 Sets Tone Early, Cowboys Depth Falters in Loss to Bengals

Sean Martin

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Sean's Scout: Starting Front 7 Sets Tone Early, Cowboys Depth Falters in Loss to Bengals
(Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports)

The Dallas Cowboys are halfway through their 2018 preseason. Given the injuries they're left to deal with to Zack Martin, Xavier Woods, and Jameill Showers, the Cowboys were happy to see their first home game of the season come to an end when it did. Despite the 21-13 loss, the Cowboys starters made another strong impression before exiting for backups that once again failed to hold the lead.

This is a game I'm looking forward to getting another look at on film, but for now here are a few thoughts the first time through.

  • Rookie Connor Williams is still a work in progress at guard, as he'll get himself in trouble trying to catch rushers too often. 

This "catch blocking" is not uncommon for young offensive linemen, particularly ones learning a new position in preparation to start on the league's best front. On the Cowboys second drive of the game, Williams was caught back in his stance dealing with a twist from the Bengals with Left Tackle Tyron Smith.

The result of the play was an incomplete pass on third down from Dak Prescott. With Williams' footwork being as consistent as it has, I wouldn't worry too much about his upper body technique and strength improving greatly before week one of the regular season. Perhaps most importantly, Williams has looked smooth playing in space, something the Cowboys are prepared to ask the second round pick to do plenty of.

  • With Randy Gregory back in the lineup, the Cowboys potential to have a great rotation of defensive ends was on full display. 

The play that stands out is a tackle for loss by Safety Jeff Heath. On the play, Defensive End Tyrone Crawford did a great job setting the edge against the run, allowing Heath to come down and make the aggressive play.

Crawford created penetration against a tight end, staying disciplined in his rush lane from the right defensive end position to force the run outside.

On the Bengals' offensive series prior to this play by Heath, the Cowboys forced a punt following a missed Andy Dalton throw to A.J. Green. Despite not being tight in coverage on third down, Randy Gregory looked sharp coming off the edge to rush Dalton slightly.

With Taco Charlton also looking strong against the run, and rookie Dorance Armstrong continuing to develop as a weak side pass rusher, the possible match ups the Cowboys can create up front are seemingly endless.

Almost all of them will include last year's sack leader DeMarcus Lawrence, who was also disruptive on nearly every snap in this game.

  • Give credit to Joe Looney for handling the reps he did at center, but the backup interior lineman left a lot to be desired from this position. 

It should come as no surprise that Looney is a better guard than center, or that the Cowboys would look significantly worse at center without Travis Frederick in the lineup.

Overall, this was a disappointing game for the Cowboys thin offensive line depth. Paul Alexander's unit was unable to give quarterbacks Cooper Rush and Mike White a fair chance to settle into the game.

Looney's contact balance was suspect throughout the evening. Not the most powerful player, it's important for Looney to play with leverage and balance, which he did inconsistently last night.

Awaiting news on Zack Martin's first quarter injury still, the Cowboys should have already been concerned about their backups at tackle, with the guard position becoming a late concern now.

  • This is becoming the standard for Jaylon Smith, but I did not see one Bengals blocker effectively slow him down.

The power that Smith is playing with is an outstanding sign for continued success. Not only is Smith physically up for the challenge of starting at MIKE for the Cowboys, but he's physically dominating opponents with strength, speed, and range.

Whether he was running laterally and avoiding blocks with great awareness, or attacking the pocket, Smith's path to the ball was rarely impeded against the Bengals.

No matter who the Cowboys lined up in their front seven, the group did a great job setting a strong tone. Antwaun Woods was once again impressive at the one technique position inside, and Brian Price made a flash play from this position late in the game as well.

Thanks to Smith's gap shooting ability, and the Cowboys willingness so far this preseason to be creative with the Notre Dame product, the team's defensive tackles don't have to be asked to do too much. Holding their spots while drawing blockers will be more than enough to free Smith and the rest of the Cowboys linebackers to make plays.

Sean's Scout: Starting Front 7 Sets Tone Early, Cowboys Depth Falters in Loss to Bengals 1

Dallas Cowboys CBs Byron Jones, Chidobe Awuzie (AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth)

  • Chidobe Awuzie's interception in the second quarter is a reminder of just how high the second-year cornerback's potential is. 

Sure, Awuzie's length put him at an advantage to take a leap into year two once Kris Richard arrived as the Cowboys passing game coordinator.

Being productive on the ball, as Awuzie was here, is a testament to just how athletic he is as a boundary cornerback though. A beat late recognizing the ball coming his way, Awuzie remained in perfect position to get a hand on this pass.

Doing so with an explosive leap off the ground and full extension, Awuzie snagged the ball with one hand before bringing it into his body to secure another turnover for the Cowboys first team defense.

The Cowboys cornerback depth proved suspect beyond Awuzie and Byron Jones in this game, but being as good as they already are on the boundary is a huge step in the right direction for Rod Marinelli's defense.

I also thought that UDFA Tyree Robinson did a great job answering the bell at safety, showing up a number of times in run support with the Cowboys in desperate need of depth at his position.

It's in the slot, where Anthony Brown and Jourdan Lewis continue to feel the pressure of competition, that the Cowboys are struggling to find the right starter - even trying Lewis on the outside well into the fourth quarter of this game.

 ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

The Cowboys will remain in their home state to conclude their training camp and preseason. Needing to see more out of their second and third team, practices will resume at The Star on Monday before another preseason game at AT&T Stadium.

This time, it will be the Arizona Cardinals coming in for a Sunday Night Football tune up. The Cowboys starters could very well see even more playing time than they have through the first two weeks, giving them a better chance of sustaining success and coming away with a preseason win.

Tell us what you think about "Sean’s Scout: Starting Front 7 Sets Tone Early, Cowboys Depth Falters in Loss to Bengals" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



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