IRVING, Texas – The Cowboys need to get creative with the defensive tackle rotation this week.
With Jay Ratliff and Ben Bass out, that may mean some mixing and matching on the defensive line to figure out the rotations. The potential backups at the position are excited for any opportunity they may get.
"You've just got to be ready to adjust and roll, however the chips fall," said backup defensive tackle Landon Cohen. "Any time you get a chance to do what you love to do, it's a great thing."
Cohen was the only true backup defensive tackle behind Jason Hatcher and Nick Hayden this week until Jerome Long returned to the team after Bass' shoulder injury. Cohen said injuries are just part of the league, and the next guy has to be ready to roll when that happens.
The backup defensive tackle came to the Cowboys on July 24, the same day as defensive end George Selvie, who's likely a starter at defensive end this week. Both players were long shots to make the final roster when they first arrived in Oxnard, Calif.
But Cohen, who's bounced from team to team and camp to camp since coming to the league as a seventh-round pick from Ohio in 2008, is excited for the opportunity to contribute in a regular season game for the first time since 2011 with the Patriots.
"I gave myself a chance, and I think the people who brought me in gave me a chance, so you all will have to tell me if I was a longshot or not," Cohen said.
Another player who could end up contributing for depth at defensive tackle is Caesar Rayford, who's quickly gone from a 3-4 outside linebacker to a 4-3 defensive end and now inside to help out at tackle.
Rayford, who had five preseason sacks with the Colts before getting traded to the Cowboys this week, said he got most of his snaps Friday working inside. The 6-foot-7 pass rusher, who's played in the Arena Football League and Canadian Football League, isn't completely unfamiliar with the position. [embedded_ad]
"You're kind of on the guards in arena football," Rayford said. "It's kind of almost like being inside, because I was lined up inside and on the guard. In Canada, during the playoffs I actually played d-tackle, when I was in the 2009 CFL Playoffs."
Two of Rayford's sacks this season came against the Giants, so he's excited if he can be active and see the same group again. He said a lot can be gained from that first experience seeing them, and he doesn't care where he lines up as long as he gets back on the field.
"During the preseason we had already studied them, so I kind of got a good game plan," Rayford said. "Now it's the second helpings. Now it's sharpening up and it's definitely going to feel familiar, because I know what I'm going up against."
Rayford said he's just thankful to be in the position he's in right now and that it's a blessing the Cowboys saw enough in him this preseason to pull the trigger. He said he clearly did something right to get to this position, and he knows what he has to do at his size to get on the field at tackle.
"If I keep my pads down and use my leverage, then I can definitely make a difference," he said. "That's the whole key, playing with my pads down. I feel like I've got good lower body strength."