SAN DIEGO –The Cowboys spent four of their first five draft picks on defensive players, including two with first-round grades. They also signed a high-profile pass-rusher in Greg Hardy.
But make no mistake – one of the key leaders of this defense is certainly not a new piece to the equation.
Defensive tackle Tyrone Crawford enters his fourth pro season, but just third in uniform after missing all of 2013 with an Achilles injury. He more than made up for lost time in 2014, when Crawford was one of the more consistent defensive performers.
To think he entered last year with uncertainly surrounding his position as he moved back and forth from end to tackle. But he's settled into the 3-technique position now at tackle, and could be ready for a breakout year.
In fact, Crawford is considered the next in line for the Cowboys to sign to a long-term contract. But when asked about that in the first two weeks of camp, Crawford shrugs it off, stating "I'm focused on playing. All of that will take care of itself."
Speaking of playing, the Cowboys finally get to take the field Thursday night in San Diego in the preseason opener. Don't expect all of the starters to play and the ones who will be in uniform, won't be on the field for long.
Crawford talked about the first game and a few other topics as the team prepares for the Chargers.
Two weeks into camp, how would you rate the level of intensity out here for these practices here in Oxnard?
CRAWFORD:Ah man, they're competing out there. It's been like that ever since I got here. They bring guys in here to compete. We have an O-line that likes to compete, a fullback that likes to bang, as we found out (Monday). We have a lot of fun. Competition brings the best out of everyone.
How excited are you guys to get to hit somebody else?
CRAWFORD: Yeah, we're ready to break it up a little bit. It's been a grind here at camp. It's always good to go and see how you're doing and how you stack up against another team.
How much do you expect to show Thursday night against the Chargers?
CRAWFORD:We don't want to show much. We just want to go out there and play our style of defense and do what we do with good execution. That's really what we want to show. We're just trying to grind.
What are your impressions of rookie pass-rusher Randy Gregory?
CRAWFORD:He's going to be a really great player. You can see that now. I don't work a lot with the defensive ends, but sometimes we'll get some (drills) in. Anything I can to help I try to do it with him or any of the younger players.
How much will Greg Hardy on the outside help the tackles?
CRAWFORD:I love it. It brings the best out of all of us. Rushing inside with a guy like that, I know we're going to put a lot of pressure on that offensive line and keep them on their toes.
Would you agree that your fellow Boise State lineman DeMarcus Lawrence looks like a new player this season year?
CRAWFORD:DeMarcus is tearing it up. He worked for it and it's showing. He put a lot of work off to the side. It's showing. I know how hard he worked. I'm just happy he's comfortable in this spot.