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Playoff Primer: Dallas Cowboys Linebackers

If you're sick of hearing about how the Cowboys season is destined to end at the hands of this Sunday in the , you have come to the right place.

This is Playoff Primer, and after spending the breaking down the , we will shift over to the now to actually talk about how Dallas matches up with Green Bay's offense. Stunning, right? 

Let's get started and talk about 's linebackers.

Sean Lee

Sean Lee has never played in the postseason for the , but his much-anticipated debut will come at the perfect time. Lee had 13 tackles against the Packers on the road this season, and has stayed healthy throughout 2016 at the WILL position.

While Lee may not make as many game changing plays at this weak side spot compared to his days at MIKE linebacker, “The General” is still a machine that is going to be relied on to keep this team focused defensively in the on every snap.

At this point, the Cowboys' is what it is, and their middle-of-the-road play puts a lot of pressure at times on the second-level linebackers. In this match up with the Packers specifically, Green Bay will look to establish a that has received a spark from .

It will be up to Lee to be the sideline to sideline player that we know him to be in order to force Aaron Rodgers into obvious passing situations, where Dallas' “clog and cover” scheme can be deployed in full effect.

Sean Lee means so much to the Dallas Cowboys, and knows that nobody will want to succeed in the playoffs more than Lee in his first appearance.

Anthony Hitchens

Entering his third season in 2016, expectations were high for to step up in a big way as the starting MIKE linebacker. While it hasn't exactly worked out, and Hitchens has faced plenty of criticism for some mental lapses on plays at times, the Iowa product does have a new career high in tackles with 78.

Is Anthony Hitchens' spot on this defense one that can be upgraded? Absolutely – and that upgrade is hopefully on the roster in the form of . For now, Rod Marinelli can hope to get Hitchens playing physical and downhill, which is when he is at his best finding the football.

When Hitchens struggles, it is typically because he loses his awareness and positioning, which in turn takes away his ability to be a hard-hitting run stopper. Look for the Packers to try to force Hitchens to do a lot of different things both as a run and pass defender in this game.

Damien Wilson

Ever since being drafted by the Cowboys in 2015, has been one of my “pet cats”. As a paintball player, I even defended him through his bizarre 2016 that nearly made him a forgotten man.

Now, after never seeing the field again following that overtime loss in New Orleans his rookie season, Wilson is the Cowboys' starter at SAM linebacker – and a very solid one at that.

Playing a position that often comes off the field when Dallas plays in “Nickel” and “Dime” packages, Wilson has earned his playing time over veteran options at strong side linebacker like and .

Although his role may be smaller compared to the other linebackers on this team, Wilson rarely goes unnoticed, rallying to the ball with his speed and surprising block-shedding ability.

Wilson can play as a down the line type of player with a good of gravity and burst. #57 is definitely a player to keep an eye on against Green Bay, and throughout the postseason.

Justin Durant
Tim Heitman- Sports

Justin Durant

Back for his second stint with the Dallas Cowboys, Durant has been about everything the team expected when they added him for depth this summer. On the field for just an average of 31% of defensive snaps, Durant has a veteran knack for making huge tackles at the most opportune times.

Unfortunately, Durant has not been on the field as often as he could have hoped, missing the final two weeks of the regular season and leaving his playoff status up in the air. If he has any chance of getting back on the field, expect him to do so, and to continue to find ways to put himself in position to make plays.

Mark Nzeocha

The Cowboys have obviously responded on defense without the services of for much of this season, but the physical MIKE type linebacker returned against the Eagles to play 16 snaps in .

Nzeocha may be a better fit at the middle linebacker spot than Anthony Hitchens, but with Hitchens getting all of the reps throughout the season, I expect Mark Nzeocha's role to be relatively limited in these playoffs.

As far as depth goes though, if Nzeocha is needed, he is not a bad option at all to patrol the middle of the field in Marinelli's defense.


I hope you enjoyed this first edition of Playoff Primer on the defensive side of the ball. Click here to catch up on previous editions of the series!

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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