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After Season-High In Missed Tackles, Marinelli Eyes Improved Run Defense

Nick Eatman is the author of the recently published ****If These Walls Could Talk: Dallas Cowboys***, a collection of stories from the Cowboys' locker room, sideline and press box, with a foreword written by Darren Woodson.*

IRVING, Texas– The Cowboys entered last week's game with the Packers against a team that featured a slumping running back. But Eddie Lacy certainly ran his way out of his struggles against the Cowboys, totaling 124 yards with a touchdown.

He also ran out of a few tackles as well.

Defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli didn't put an exact number on the missed tackles, only stating, "we had more than we've had" all season.

Of course, the 230-pound Lacy had a hand, and some legs, in the problems, as did Packers backup James Starks, who had a fourth-quarter touchdown.

"I take my hat off to him – the big back," Marinelli said of Lacy. "He ran … both of those guys ran hard. But we had a hard time bringing (Lacy) down. He's a heck of a back."

And the Cowboys are about to face another big-bodied tailback this week in Chris Ivory, who ranks fifth in the NFL with 194 rushing yards, to go along with seven touchdowns. Ivory already has career-highs in attempts (217), yards and touchdowns and is coming off a 101-yard performance last Sunday against the Titans, his first 100-yard game since Week 6.

Always a key aspect to stopping the run is the middle linebacker. But the Cowboys might be without Rolando McClain this week. The veteran has been treated for a concussion this week and considering the Cowboys are on a short week with Saturday's game, there's a chance he could be held out. McClain didn't practice on Wednesday and his status for the game is definitely unclear.

If he doesn't play, Marinelli said it's a physical loss inside.

"He's a presence running through the middle," Marinelli said. "He's a presence in one, the run, he's so physical, but he's got such range as a pass defender. Really good player, his instincts, awareness. He's a leader by just lining up and playing."

The Cowboys would likely go with either Andrew Gachkar or Anthony Hitchens in McClain's place, likely keeping Sean Lee at his normal weak-side spot.

For the season, Lacy became just the second opponent to rush for 100 yards or more against the Cowboys and the first since Week 3 when Atlanta's Devonta Freeman ripped off 141 yards.

The Cowboys have the ninth-best total defense but rank 18th against the run, averaging 113.8 yards against them each week.  

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