Editor's Note: Throughout the off-season, DallasCowboys.com staff writers will take a closer look at the roster, analyzing players’ impact last season and how each fits into the team's 2014 plans. Today's Roster Rundown entry features linebacker
Name: Justin Durant
Height/Weight: 6-1 / 228
Experience: 7 seasons
Key stat: Durant was off to his best game statistically against the Saints, with seven tackles and a pass deflection before going down with a hamstring injury that would come back to haunt him again at the end of the season.
Contract Status: Signed through 2014
2013 Impact: When you look at traits for linebackers, the most important one in my book, is how much are they around the ball? I think you can say that about Justin Durant in that he is one of those linebacker that is always around the ball and in on tackles. Before he arrived in Dallas, you could look at his work in Detroit and realize that he is that type of player. I really did like the fit of Durant as that Sam linebacker in this scheme and I felt like he did a nice job of playing in it. There was a knock on Durant with his ability to play as a three down linebacker, while he was in Detroit and that wasn’t the case at all here. There was the Washington and Philadelphia games where I thought he did a nice job while he was on the field in providing pressure off the edge. In the New Orleans game before he got hurt, he was really the only defensive player that was playing well both against the run and pass. When he returned from that hamstring injury against the Saints, he was well on his way to having another outstanding game against the Packers and right before half, he goes down again. What I remember about that game was when he went out, the Packers had better success running the ball with Eddie Lacy which brought them back into the game.
Where He Fits:I feel like there is some value to Justin Durant’s game going forward but this front office might not feel the same way. The consideration that they are going to have to look at is the development of
Rowan Kavner – The hamstring plague that scurried through the Cowboys roster in 2013 eliminated the end of Justin Durant’s first season in Dallas. Durant was slated to start as the strong side linebacker, which he did, but groin and hamstring injuries limited him to just 10 games and a career-low 30 total tackles. The linebacker showed flashes of why the Cowboys brought him in to Dallas, but the leg injuries sidelined him before he could build on those performances. He returned from a hamstring injury only to reinjure it and go on injured reserve in Week 16. The Cowboys signed Durant last offseason to a two-year deal, and if he comes back for his second year he will compete once again to start at the strong side spot. He also showed he’s capable of shifting inside to play middle linebacker, if need be. But the time Durant had off gave Kyle Wilber and DeVonte Holloman more action on the strong side, and Durant will be in for more of a competition than he had last preseason to earn the starting spot.