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Will LB Luke Gifford Become More Than a Special Teams Workhorse?

was the Cowboys' busiest player last season, leading the teams in total snaps. Back in Dallas for 2022 on a new one-year contract, will Gifford finally become a bigger part of the rotation?

may be the special teams ace in Dallas but Gifford's 368 total snaps topped his 332 by a good margin. They were the only two Cowboys with over 300 special teams appearances in 2021.

Gifford had one of the standout plays from last year with his blocked punt and recovery in the Cowboys' win over the New England Patriots. But with Dallas needing help at linebacker in 2022, it'd be nice for Gifford to get a new highlight moment from another phase of the game.

With just $1.1 million and $150k guaranteed in his new contract, Luke clearly isn't being relied on for a major defensive role. If anything, Dallas left minimal dead money potential in the deal in case Gifford wouldn't even make the 2022 roster.

But the fourth-year prospect will have every opportunity to stay with the team. Right now the Cowboys' only sure things for next season are and .

is expected to return but will be recovering from ACL surgery. , one of Dallas' several 5th-round picks in 2022, may not play at all this year after a recent spinal fusion.

Barring any late- additions that leaves Gifford as the next man up. He should get plenty of work this summer, likely much of it with the first-team , and who knows how that could trickle down into September?

We've been intrigued by Luke Gifford ever since his debut in the . He was flying around the field against San Francisco that August and making plays like Vander Esch had the previous season as an outstanding, rookie. Unfortunately, a high-ankle sprain later in that game cut his time short.

Playing in just six games as a rookie and eight games in 2020, last year was a big step for Gifford to remain healthy and dress in 16 games. Now with other linebackers potentially missing practice reps and even games with , can Luke step up and prove he's more than a special teams standout?

Jess Haynie
Jess Haynie
Cowboys fan since 1992, blogger since 2011. Bringing you the objectivity of an outside perspective with the passion of a die-hard fan. I love to talk to my readers, so please comment on any article and I'll be sure to respond!

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I think Gifford is who he is at this point…a ST’s mainstay and barely serviceable backup LB. He has struggled to stay healthy until last season. Even when healthy, he really hasn’t shown much as a LB. He isn’t as bad as Barbie Carpenter, but he isn’t even as good as Jaylon Smith was at his worst. He’s a cheap guy that fills a hole until you can sign some aging vet off the street to get you through until your starter returns.

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