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Playoff Primer: Dallas Cowboys Defensive Tackles

The strength of the is on the interior at defensive . Yesterday, as I broke down the linebackers, I mentioned the “clog and cover” scheme that has been effective to this point for – and that it would be particularly important playing against and the .

Perhaps the biggest reason that this scheme works is because of the depth this team has at .

Let's look closer at the players at this position in another edition of Playoff Primer.

Terrell McClain
DT (97) – AP Photo/James D Smith

Terrell McClain

Staying on the field has been Terrell McClain's biggest issue throughout his career, but when he is out there at either the 3T or 1T position with the Cowboys, the talent is clearly never an issue.

McClain is expected back for this game against the Packers, and will be needed as a run stopper and interior pass rusher. At his best, Terrell McClain is an incredibly explosive player that controls his gap with leverage, power, and often-surprising speed.

knows that consistently getting to Aaron Rodgers in this game will be all but impossible, but having a healthy and well-rested McClain pressuring him up the middle could be just as good when you pair him with the rest of these talented defensive tackles.

Cedric Thornton

Like McClain, is also expected to return from in this game. Signed from the this , Thornton was added to strengthen a position that ended up being one of Dallas' biggest strengths – leading to the athletic 1T DT filling much more of a rotational spot.

Cedric Thornton can still be a very disruptive player with limited snaps, as he is a legitimate weapon on twists and stunts. Whether or not the Cowboys try to blitz Rodgers in some key spots is going to be something to watch in this game, but if they do come after #12, look for Thornton to be involved in some way.

Cedric can be used to “pin” and  free up these runners at the , or get home and finish himself.

Maliek Collins

has earned a starting spot on the Dallas Cowboys' defensive line despite missing most of , quickly displaying in his first year what the Cowboys saw from him as a fourth round draft pick. Rod Marinelli called Collins a, “perfect fit”, and his freakish athleticism for his size has made that evident.

The rookie out of Nebraska is the poster child for this that prides itself on rallying to the football, consistently making plays down the line and coming up with tackles for loss.

The Packers with Ty Montgomery and shouldn't scare the Cowboys nearly as much as their does, but if they do try to stretch the field with this spread rushing attack, a player like Collins can go a long way in ensuring it doesn't keep the Packers ahead of schedule.


As we get closer to kickoff from this Sunday between the Cowboys and Packers, you can catch up on previous editions of my Playoff Primer series right here.

Sean Martin
Sean Martinhttp://wmscradio.com/show/upon-further-review/
Born January 28th, 1996- Cowboys Super Bowl XXX. Point Boro Panther, Montclair State Red Hawk, and most importantly a proud member of Cowboys Nation! I host "Upon Further Review" on 90.3 WMSC FM and wmscradio.com every Friday from 1-4 PM ET. Twitter: @SeanMartinNFL.

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