IRVING, Texas -- Breaking down the defensive line in the Dallas Cowboys' 36-31 victory against the New York Giants:
Anyone that has followed this club over the years knows the names DeMarcus Ware, Jay Ratliff, Jason Hatcher and Anthony Spencer. But until Sunday night at AT&T Stadium, you weren't so sure of guys like Nick Hayden, George Selvie, Landon Cohen, Jerome Long and Edgar Jones.
With all the injuries along the defensive line this squad endured during training camp, these players were put into some situations where they had no choice but to play at a high level.
Hayden and Selvie were starters against the Giants, while Cohen, Long and Jones came off the bench to provide enough quality snaps for Monte Kiffin to run his scheme without feeling like he had to deal with too many limitations.
As a unit, it was a nice mix with Hayden working inside and Hatcher and Selvie holding down the left end spot. They also saw some work on the right side, which allowed Ware to get some rushes against the Giants rookie right tackle, Justin Pugh.
What is most noticeable about Hayden's game is his ability to play with power and anchor down at the point of attack to take on double teams. The Giants' interior three offensive linemen had a difficult time getting movement on him.
He played with a square base and didn't get turned or washed out of the play. He was stout and there were a couple of plays where he actually was able to split the double team and was able to work his way into the backfield, causing problems for the blocking schemes. His tackle and strip against David Wilson was a huge play in the game. He was able to rip the ball from Wilson's hands, which resulted in a turnover that led to a scoop and score for Barry Church.
The aspect of Hayden's game that concerned me the most was if he would provide enough pass rush inside working from the one technique, but that was not an issue at all. Monte Kiffin and Rod Marinelli used him on straight rushes and some inside games with effectiveness. I felt that he might only be a one or two down player, but that was not the case at all. [embedded_ad]
Going into this contest, I wasn't completely sure how George Selvie would play at left defensive end against Justin Pugh. I did know that Selvie had some traits that would give Pugh trouble in the way he played, but all evening long, he attacked the rookie tackle down after down.
Where Selvie was at his best was getting to the shoulder of Pugh before he was able to get his hands on him. Selvie played with explosive quickness and some surprising power which I had not observed in this preseason. I have grown to respect his ability as a rusher, but he played with some snap and bend in the running game.
He looked comfortable whether he was taking on Pugh, Will Beatty or one of the Giants tight ends. His sack of Eli Manning on second down with the Giants in a goal-to-go situation was a key play in that drive because it really limited the play calling opportunity for Kevin Gillbride. The stand resulted in only three points instead of seven.