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With DT David Irving Getting “Into Shape,” Do Cowboys Have Better Options?

Sean Martin

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With DT David Irving Getting "Into Shape", Do Cowboys Have Better Options?

Early offseason practices in the NFL are about preparing a 90-man roster for the rigor of padded training camps and a preseason that depletes each roster to just 53 men. Understanding where a team's strengths and weaknesses are with OTAs underway is vital to completing the roster. For the Dallas Cowboys, their defensive line projects to be one of Rod Marinelli's deepest and most talented groups yet, but even the Cowboys defensive coordinator is realizing this without starting DT David Irving right now.

Jon Machota on Twitter

Cowboys DC Rod Marinelli on David Irving: "Not in shape. ... He's been in and out [of the offseason conditioning program]." Is that disappointing? "No. The guys here I'm excited about.

David Irving's flashes of raw talent with the Cowboys have been more than enough to convince some fans that it's actually the team's fault for seemingly holding Irving back. With this latest development, it appears that the Cowboys have done everything they could to protect Irving - who's rewarded them with 11.5 sacks in 35 games.

Absent from the Cowboys workouts so far, Irving is reportedly out of football shape. According to Head Coach Jason Garrett, Irving is "getting into shape". Whatever that means. Something about accountability goes here.

David Irving

Dallas Cowboys DT David Irving

Making a name for himself in Dallas ever since being picked up by the Cowboys off the Kansas City Chiefs practice squad, Irving has been in the news for plenty of wrong reasons before too. Remaining with the Cowboys after signing a second-round tender for 2018, the Cowboys have leverage against a projected starter at DT.

Any other team could have picked up Irving at the price of their second round pick, choosing instead to see this offseason's domestic violence charges and now a lack of practice participation reflect directly back on the Dallas Cowboys.

A Cowboys team that has even more questions to answer on the depth chart at defensive tackle. As it stands now, Maliek Collins will come off of a second broken foot in three seasons to start at one of the two DT spots for Dallas. The talented but perhaps misused interior rusher will be joined by the likes of Brian Price, Lewis Neal (who was preparing to spend the offseason learning the fullback position as of a few weeks ago), and Jihad Ward.

When the Cowboys traded for Ward during the 2018 NFL Draft, it is hard to believe they imagined needing him to step into such a large role right away. To David Irving's defense, the 6'7" nightmare for offensive linemen has a long time to work his way back onto the field and dominate in ways that few at the position can.

Irving should have no problem standing out over the field of DTs the Cowboys are currently fielding, undervaluing the position in recent memory. Rod Marinelli may very well have reason to be excited about the guys he has worked with so far, left with no choice but to apply his hard-and-fast coaching style to any defensive linemen fortunate enough to learn under him.

The alarming amount of players doing so right now that the Cowboys will have to consider for spots on the roster thanks to David Irving's continuous unreliability is concerning to say the least.

Also working through their numbers at linebacker to evaluate how first round pick Leighton Vander Esch will be utilized, the new-look Cowboys defense feels uncertain up the middle. Again, it is the end of May and games are not won and lost because of this just yet.

Insert David Irving at the 3T position and suddenly the entire Dallas defense is elevated because of it. Particularly franchise-tagged Defensive End DeMarcus Lawrence, who makes Irving's current status all the more frustrating - benefiting the most from playing alongside a disruptive DT and entering yet another contract season.

As the summer heat beckons the return of another NFL season, the Cowboys are going to have plenty of difficult roster decisions to make before ever reaching a meaningful game. Falling behind this early in the offseason program after three years with the Cowboys is inexcusable for David Irving.

Tell us what you think about "With DT David Irving Getting “Into Shape,” Do Cowboys Have Better Options?" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



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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4 Comments
  • gregoryambus

    David Irving had to go and take the custody of his child away from a crazy mother. He was falsely accused of domestic violence by the mother so she could try to keep the custody of his child. Now he has the child as a single parent and that transition cooudnt not have been easy. He should be cut some slack. He wasn’t out doing anti social, or any-team things, or anything illegal. He needed some time to get his child attended to.

    • kabob

      Facts

  • Pete186

    The answer is SIMPLE !!! Sign a real ONE TECHNIQUE , HANKINS !!! Stop this experiment of have multiple 3’s with no real 1 tech on the defensive line.

    • kabob

      Marinelli doesn’t want a giant line plugger with limited mobility. He values position flex and the ability to run sideline to sideline if need be. Hankins just doesn’t fit.

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Maliek Collins Playing Excellent for Cowboys Defense

John Williams

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Maliek Collins

For the Dallas Cowboys on the interior, a lot of the news consistently surround the availability of Defensive Tackle David Irving, but Maliek Collins is playing excellent right now. While I'm willing to be very patient with Irving because of the elite talent he brings, Maliek Collins should continue to start for the Dallas Cowboys at 3-technique defensive tackle.

Collins has been a player that the Cowboys have bounced between the nose tackle and the 3T position with the hopes of getting their best players on the field, and because of the lack of a consistent presence at the 1-technique or nose tackle position. Well, with Antwaun Woods taking control at the 1T, Collins has been able to play at the position where he's at his best. The 3-tech.

He hasn't put huge numbers in the sack column this season, but that doesn't mean he's been absent from being the disruptive player he's been through his first two and a half seasons.

During the Dallas Cowboys five game winning streak, Maliek Collins has led the Dallas Cowboys defensive tackles in total pressures with 13, according to Pro Football Focus. PFF combines sacks, quarterback hits, and hurries into their "pressures." Collins hasn't recorded a sack during the winning streak, but he has four quarterback hits and nine hurries. He's tied with Tyrone Crawford for third in total pressures behind DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory over the last five weeks.

Over the last five weeks, Collins leads the defensive tackles in solo tackles with five and is tied with Crawford and Antwaun Woods with three run stops on defense, according to Pro Football Focus. Collins has also has two tackles for loss in the last five games and recovered Tyrone Crawford's force fumble on Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Collins had six sacks in his rookie season when he played primarily as the 3T, which allowed him to see more one-on-one blocks against opposing interior offensive linemen. Especially with the way the rest of the defensive line is playing.

With the Cowboys on the road to face the Indianapolis Colts this week, Collins is going to have a tough matchup with a very good Colts offensive line, in particular, rookie Quentin Nelson. Collins ability to get pressure on Andrew Luck on the interior is a huge key for the Dallas Cowboys this week. We know that Gregory and Lawrence will get their pressures, but if Andrew Luck is able to step up into a clean pocket, it will make for a much more challenging game for the Cowboys secondary.

Collins has proved to be up to any task over the last five weeks and if he's able to keep playing at such a high level, he'll make the Cowboys coaching staff, and the rest of Cowboys Nation forget about using other defensive tackles. For the Cowboys to make a deep push in the playoffs, they'll need Collins to be a big time player for them moving forward.



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Amari Cooper Wins 2nd NFC Offensive Player of the Week Award of 2018

Jess Haynie

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Amari Cooper

For the second time in just three weeks, Dallas Cowboys receiver Amari Cooper has been named the NFC Offensive Player of the Week.

Cooper scored three touchdowns, including the game winner in overtime, to lead the Cowboys to victory last Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles. He has 10 catches for 217 yards, which led all NFL receivers last week.

Dallas Cowboys on Twitter

After his record-setting performance during week 14, @AmariCooper9 is the FIRST #DallasCowboys to win NFC Player of the Week twice in a season! → https://t.co/kvBDIeOgBd #ProBowlVote #ProBowlVote #ProBowlVote #ProBowlVote #ProBowlVote #ProBowlVote

As the official website stated, Cooper is the first Cowboy to win the award twice in the same year. He's also the first Cowboy to be named Offensive Player of the Week since Ezekiel Elliott in 2016.

Before this year, Elliott was the only Dallas player to win the Offensive award in three seasons. Cooper has now done it twice in three weeks.

Since being traded to the Cowboys, Amari Cooper has amassed 40 catches for 642 yards and six touchdowns.

His wasted time in Oakland may keep Cooper out of the Pro Bowl this year, but he's already become a fan favorite in Cowboys Nation. Congratulations to Amari for another well-deserved award!



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David Irving Out Again for Cowboys, Does Defense Need Him?

Sean Martin

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David Irving Out Again for Cowboys, Does Defense Need Him?

Dallas Cowboys Defensive Tackle David Irving, once a key member of the team's defense, will not make his return after all against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday. For the second straight week, Irving was reportedly trending towards suiting up before being ruled out. The Cowboys haven't missed his unique presence for 13 weeks (playing against the Jaguars and Redskins), including through an ongoing four game win streak that began with a win against these Eagles on the road.

In that road win, veteran Tyrone Crawford recorded a sack and three tackles, while Antwaun Woods added two for a Dallas defense that held Philadelphia to 23 first downs and 71 rushing yards. The Eagles managed to cross the Cowboys' 30-yard line just four times.

There are many scenarios in which the Cowboys could have cut ties with Irving for not being worth the off-field trouble he's caused - beginning the season with a four game suspension. The absolute best case scenario is what they've realized amidst this turnaround, with other defensive linemen taking advantage of the opportunity left behind by Irving.

While it can still be true that Irving would make more splash plays than the likes of Crawford, Woods, Maliek Collins, and Caraun Reid, this defensive tackle group deserves praise for their ability to step in. Pass rush ability is one thing teams can't have enough of, and the Cowboys are missing some with Irving, finding ways to win thanks to the other traits these defenders bring to the table.

Cowboys Passing Game Coordinator Kris Richard may effectively be the team's defensive coordinator with an emphasis on the back seven, but DC Rod Marinelli's impact is still felt - particularly up front. Regardless of where they're lined up and deployed, the Cowboys front four is expected to be disruptive on every snap, something this scrappy unit excels at.

Prepared once again to play on the edge this season, Crawford is thriving at his original position of 3T-DT. Crawford has two sacks, nine total tackles, and three other hits on the quarterback over the past four weeks. Leading by example with a relentless spirit on every play, Crawford has meant just as much to the Cowboys defensive ends as Irving could.

In a short period of time, the Cowboys have gone from building up Irving thanks to his transcendent ability to make those around him better to simply -- and importantly -- being better across the defense.

Led by DeMarcus Lawrence as their premier rusher, the Cowboys defensive line is a lot for opposing offenses to contain. The "Hot Boyz" work up front has allowed Linebackers Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch to play fast and make plays all over the field.

Maliek Collins, battling back from his second broken foot in three years, is proving again he's a patented Marinelli guy. Collins' play speaks for itself when considering if the Nebraska product is best as a 3T or 1T tackle. Wherever he's asked to play, Collins creates penetration with an explosive first step and can finish at the quarterback with an array of power rush moves.

At 7-5 and fighting for their playoff lives, the Cowboys are done making excuses on the 2018 season. Their strides on defense speak for themselves, and with a group that keeps Dallas in every game they'll play, the door remains open for David Irving to earn snaps again when ready.

The Cowboys don't know any better than their play without Irving right now, and as winners of four straight, it's worth questioning if we'll see Irving over the last three weeks of the regular season.

Tell us what you think about "David Irving Out Again for Cowboys, Does Defense Need Him?" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



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