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Gameday: Key Matchups For Sunday Down In The Trenches
Cowboys Center Travis Frederick versus Chiefs Nose Tackle Dontari Poe:
This will be rookie center Travis Frederick’s first experience playing with a man on his nose the entire game. He has had to deal with shades, but in training camp and during the preseason games, he was largely uncovered.
Dontari Poe is an interesting player because when he came out in the draft two seasons ago, he had the tag of boom-or-bust. My observation of him then was that he had more boom because of his natural ability. I did not see him play all that well with his technique, but I felt like once he got into the league that would all change.
Poe has always been a powerful, point-of-attack player, who if you attempted to run the ball at him, blockers were going to have a difficult time moving him. That is still the case today.
Where Poe has made his biggest improvement is in how he is playing with his hands. He is doing a much better job of quickly working them inside to control the blocker. He is shedding blockers with more consistency, and then working to his left or right to find the ball.
Frederick will also need to be on guard for Poe’s swim move, run or pass. For a big man, Poe is surprisingly very nimble with his footwork. If he does have a weakness, and this is where Frederick can take advantage of him, it’s that he tends to be a tick late off the snap.
Frederick is smart enough and savvy enough to find ways to work the edges on Poe but also put himself into position when getting help. This should be a good battle inside between two young players.
Eric Fisher is making his second career start, and after a week against Jacksonville where he had some questionable moments at right tackle, these Cowboys defensive ends should be anxious to attack him. There is no doubt that one day Fisher will be a factor for the Chiefs, but right now he has struggled when he has had to face a rusher that plays with power.
Technique-wise, Fisher can put himself into position to secure the block. Finishing it, though, is where he gets in the most trouble.
Look for defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin to find plenty of ways to get Spencer off the edge in this game, which will allow him to take advantage of Fisher. Spencer will also be able to attack Fisher with more pass-rush moves, which is always difficult for a rookie to deal with.
I fully expect to see DeMarcus Ware move to the opposite side and take some cracks at Fisher as well. Selvie will then move to the right side and face Brandon Albert, who I feel like is the best of the Kansas City offensive line. Ware, like Spencer, can present a whole set of different challenges as well. We have talked about this before in that Ware has that ability to turn speed into power and get blockers off balance.
As long as Selvie can hold up at the point of attack against the Chiefs, then Kiffin can continue to move these rushers around to create the best possible matchups and get pressure on Alex Smith.