The Dallas Cowboys have done some wheeling and dealing this week on their defensive line after a disappointing 2-5 start to the 2020 season. On Tuesday, they dealt Everson Griffen to the Detroit Lions for a conditional draft pick. One day later, Dontari Poe was released due to poor performance and weight issues according to team owner Jerry Jones.
Poe’s departure sets up a great chance for rookie Defensive Tackle Neville Gallimore to get more snaps. The former Oklahoma Sooner acknowledged that on a conference call Wednesday.
“All I know is that it’s an opportunity for me to step up personally,” Gallimore said.
Gallimore was already seeing his snaps increase before Poe was removed from the roster. After just 20 snaps in the first four weeks, he’s seen his reps trend upward to 22, 23, and 38 in the last three games.
Being able to sit and learn behind veterans can be extremely beneficial for a young player trying to acclimate his game from college to the NFL level. The rookie spoke about how that has helped him so far in Dallas.
“Extremely beneficial,” Gallimore said. “It’s really cool from the fact, obviously coming from where I played ball at college- being faster, stronger than everybody- to being around guys where I’m not the fastest. I’m not the strongest. But just having a great group of guys who’ve been through the process and know what it takes. Just kind of leaning on them, understanding how I can be beneficial to the team by just doing my part and not having to do too much, but just doing my job the best I know how.
“Yeah, it’s a learning curve, but it’s a part of it. I know it wasn’t going to be easy. Heck, it wasn’t easy to get into this position anyway. So again, it’s just another opportunity for me to grow as a football player and again, just get better. That’s the biggest thing for me. I want to improve and I want to limit any mistakes or similar mistakes that happened in the past. Just grow. I’m just trying to be a better ballplayer, end of the day.”
Having good technique is very important for a defensive lineman. The ability to use speed and power as well as being good with your hands simultaneously is what separates the average from the elite. Gallimore admitted that he’s working on that particular aspect of his game to help out the Cowboys league-worst run defense.
“You know, obviously the biggest thing is just being able to be more effective in the run game,” Gallimore said. “Stuff I’ve got to be better at. That’s just something I’m working on: making sure my hands, my technique, everything is where it should be. I’m working on it and again, can’t really speak on it; just got to continue to show it. Obviously that’s the biggest thing I’m working on: making sure that I’m taking steps to really help this team be more effective in run stop.”
The Cowboys selected Gallimore in the third-round which means they had plans of him contributing early. The promising young talent recognizes that there’s no time like the present for him to make an impact.
“I’m here for a reason. They got me here for a reason,” said the rookie. “So it’s my opportunity to step up, and I have that chance now. Taking it day by day. A lot of the progression doesn’t happen overnight. It’s about making sure I focus on the little things, just keeping my head down, and trying to get better.”
Head Coach Mike McCarthy also realizes that Poe’s departure has created opportunities for other guys on the roster.
“I mean really, my view is based on evaluation, going through everything each and every day,” McCarthy said Thursday, per Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News. “You look at all the variables involved in what it takes for players to be successful. But at the end of the day, we feel this decision gives a number of guys more opportunities. We want to feel the impact of particularly some of these young guys getting more snaps, so that’s the direction I’m going.”
He mentioned veteran Antwaun Woods and Gallimore as the players who will take advantage of those opportunities.
“Those are the two guys that will definitely benefit from this move,” McCarthy said.
The only thing left to see now is if Gallimore will take full advantage of this chance to make his mark on the Cowboys defensive front. The task will be a big one this Sunday as the Cowboys travel to face the Philadelphia Eagles with first place in the NFC East on the line.