IRVING, Texas -- With the loss of Sean Lee there will be a couple of different ways I feel like the Cowboys will play this. The best option, in my opinion, is playing DeVonte Holloman at the middle linebacker spot.
Holloman might not have the quickness of Lee, but he does play with power at the point and has a keen nose for the ball. There were also snaps where he was right where he needed to be when it came to pass coverage. It wasn't always perfect, but he did show some awareness. What Holloman was able to gain from last season was experience and that is really what he was lacking. Knowing it is his job, he has an even better chance to build off that experience.
Another option if you want to keep Holloman on the outside is to use rookie Anthony Hitchens. I was told in Wednesday's OTA practice that he took several reps with the first defense to test where he was at mentally and was no worse for wear. There were good fits in the run game, playing with his hands and putting himself in position to make the tackle.
What you get from Hitchens is the physical side of the game more than the athlete. Where he is going to have to make the most improvement in his game will be in the coverage aspect of the position. In this scheme, if you struggle to know where you fit in your zone drops, there are going to be issues.
The majority of this will come from feeling comfortable with the position but also having the confidence that you are not making a mistake. Look for him to continue to get more and more work with the first group in the coming weeks. [embedded_ad]
If you believe in Will McClay and this pro personnel department, an option in my eyes is allow these scouts to find you a linebacker that might not be a starter but can develop into one down the road. The way you get these types of players is usually worked through a trade. As all these teams going through minicamps and OTAs, they are looking at their players thinking that they might be short at one or two positions.
This is where McClay has to try and convince Jerry and Stephen Jones that moving a player from a position of strength, say running back or offensive line, could land them quality linebacker in return. This scouting staff has a great understanding of these rosters around the league and without any problem can identify a player or two that might be a fit.
The last option, and the one that I would like to avoid, is adding a veteran player that either has age or an injury history. Bill Parcells use to call these players "Hold the Fort" guys. I understand how everyone wants this front office to go out and sign a name guy, but when you have options with young players like DeVonte Holloman and Anthony Hitchens or the resources to potentially bring another young guy in through trade, why not exhaust all those possibilities first?
There is no question that the Sean Lee injury will be a big blow to this defense, but front offices don't look at it that way. Instead, they understand the situation and address it the best way possible and that is with solid options. Plugging a hole just to plug it is not the best way to do your job. This club has options and there is plenty of time to go through every one of them.