Despite completing four weeks of OTAs and minicamp practices, several things remain unsettled for the Cowboys. When the team reports to training camp on July 28 in Oxnard, Calif., several questions still need answers.
The staff writers at DallasCowboys.com – Rob Phillips, David Helman, Nick Eatman and Bryan Broaddus – will attempt to answer these questions before the start of training camp.
Today, the staff continues the series by wondering if Greg Hardy, whose league suspension was recently reduced to four games, will be in the lineup long enough to lead the team in sacks this year.
6) Can Hardy Play Enough To Lead Cowboys In Sacks In 2015?
David Helman:It'd be easy for me to pick Greg Hardy, considering his suspension has been reduced to just four games – and could potentially be reduced even further. But when he suits up for the Cowboys in October, it'll be just his second game since the end of the 2013 season. With that in mind, I'll say Tyrone Crawford. In 2014, he finished with just three sacks – but he was perhaps a step or two away from several more. I feel like I'm stepping out on a limb here, but remember: It was just two years ago that Jason Hatcher notched 11 sacks from the three-technique position. In a contract season, and with several talented additions to help him on the defensive front, I don't think it's a stretch to say Crawford could put together a nine-to-12-sack season – which could be enough to lead this team.[embeddedad0]
Rob Phillips: Even if he's only active for 12 games, I'll go with the most proven pass rusher on defense: Hardy. Keep in mind he had 26 sacks in two seasons (2012-13) before spending nearly all of last season on the commissioner's exempt list. He will need time to knock off rust, but the Cowboys plan to give him plenty of preseason reps for that reason. I feel more confident in his ability to impact games quickly upon his return from a four-game suspension than a 10-game suspension had it been upheld. There just aren't many pass rushers in the league with his skills, and now we're talking about a month out of the lineup as opposed to nearly three months.
Nick Eatman: I think Hardy can certainly play enough to be the team leader in sacks. Last year, the Cowboys' leader had just six, so yes Hardy can get there. Personally, I think he will get more than that but I don't see him being the sack leader. It'll be a battle between DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory, who both should flirt with double-digit numbers. I can see Hardy getting a lot of attention on the outside and maybe even moving inside on pass-rushing downs. Gregory will be a fresh addition on third-down plays and should be able to rack up some sacks. So Hardy could have the biggest impact, but I don't think he'll end up leading the team in sacks.
Bryan Broaddus: That's an interesting question on a couple of different levels due to the question of what is the final of number of games will he miss. If Hardy does take his suspension to court there is a chance that he could potentially get it reduced by two or more games. In just taking the current situation of four games missed, I still believe that he will lead this team in sacks. I don't mean this as a criticism of the other rushers on this team, but Hardy is capable of grabbing a sack a game or having one of those games like he did against the Giants two years ago and finish with two and a half. There will be several games this season where he will finish the game multiple sacks – my guarantee. Hardy is one of the best pass rushers in the league, an elite talent, and with the players around him on this defense he will play at that level when he comes back into the lineup.
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