Happy Monday, Cowboys Nation! Looking for some silver and blue tinted optimism to start off your week? Well, you came to the right place, because I'm here to talk about the Dallas Cowboys' defensive end position.
Wait, Sean, it's Monday AND I have to read about one of the biggest sore spots on the Cowboys' roster? Why would you do this…
Well, while I would mostly disagree with the fans that are overly concerned about Rod Marinelli's current pass rushers, the one player that should have been an undeniable bright spot to start off 2016 is DeMarcus Lawrence.
While that potential for the third year defensive end in Lawrence is still there, he now has to deal with an unfortunate four game suspension enforced due to a violation in the league's substance abuse policy.
While all of the details of the suspension have not been released, the failed test is believed to be associated with his off season back surgery.
DeMarcus Lawrence found himself as a pass rusher near the end of 2015. After recording just 1 sack through the first half of the season, things did not look promising for the former second round pick of 2014. Lawrence then recorded seven sacks over the Cowboys' final eight games to end his second season on a temporary high note.
In a perfect world, Dallas will welcome back a healthy and extremely motivated D-Law in week 5 to anchor a defensive line that is undoubtedly desperate for the established presence he can provide (albeit in a small sample size).
By looking closely at how Lawrence was able to develop last season, this dream scenario becomes a real possibility. As an edge rusher, many people credited Lawrence's success to the contributions of guys like Greg Hardy and the rest of the defensive line drawing attention – which allowed DeMarcus to work against single blocks on the left side.
If that was truly the case, a more experienced Lawrence could dominate when he steps on the field in 2016. The Cowboys current depth at defensive tackle is overwhelming, and this unit is going to require offenses to prepare for the pressure that Tyrone Crawford, Cedric Thornton, Terrell McClain, David Irving, and Jack Crawford can collectively create up the middle.
This picture shows Lawrence's biggest moment as a Cowboy, which also was one of the biggest moments for this entire franchise as far as recent history goes.
The only player still with the team here besides Lawrence is Terrell McClain, who's roster spot is in jeopardy after suffering a season-ending injury early in 2015.
When D-Law steps onto the field for the first time in 2016, he can think back to this moment from his magical rookie season, and look to be a driving force in recreating that type of winning atmosphere.
To do so, Lawrence can hunt down quarterbacks from the edge, and hopefully ones that are desperate for quick points should the Dallas offense do it's job of controlling the clock with Ezekiel Elliott.
The unknown element to this defensive line unit is Randy Gregory, as he will also serve a four game suspension to begin the season. If he can return to reclaim his position at RDE, and do so with some productivity, this defensive front could surprise everyone and become a real strength for this team – driven by DeMarcus Lawrence.
What do you expect from Lawrence in 2016? Start the conversation with a comment below, or email me your thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org!