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Cowboys' Bland Prepares as Veteran, Not Rookie


The rookie haul for the Cowboys has been lights-out, and DaRon Bland is determined to make sure NFL teams know what they missed by allowing him to fall to the fifth round in April

FRISCO, TX — Bland is the new spicy, at least as it relates to the Dallas Cowboys right now. And it's not simply because of the 54-19 slaughter of the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday night, but also because DaRon Bland used a career night to demonstrate just how lethal this 2022 rookie class truly is in North Texas.

It's inarguably one of the best in recent history for the Cowboys, period.

Please understand that's saying a lot when you consider just how well they tend to do in that regard (annually), but the overall youth at the cornerback position will be tested going forward with both Jourdan Lewis and Anthony Brown [likely] lost for the season with a broken foot and torn/ruptured Achilles, respectively.

Enter Bland, who grabbed a career-best two interceptions against Matt Ryan in Week 13, pushing his INT tally to three in Year 1. That ties him with First-Team All-Pro Trevon Diggs for most interceptions on the team, and in only three career starts, as he gleans all he can from Diggs, Brown and Lewis to shorten his NFL learning curve.

"The mindspeed," he said. "You see that they're calm, no matter the moment. Just calm."

Controlling the Speed Force is one thing, but the fact Bland is also operating as the Eobard Thawne to Diggs' version of Barry Allen is quite another.

That said, Reverse Flash isn't interested in revealing his future to anyone.

All that matters to him is The Now.

"I can't tell you [what my potential down the road is] because I'm not looking that far down the road," Bland said. "I'm just looking at the next game."

That next game will be against the visiting Houston Texans, a team led by quarterback Davis Mills, who has thrown 11 interceptions to match his 11 touchdowns through 12 games. There should be an opportunity (or two) for Bland to get his hands on a fourth interception, but he's not going to risk giving up the big play to see it happen.

"We preach on this defense that the plays will come — don't chase them," he said.

That sounds eerily familiar, considering it's exactly what Diggs said (almost to the letter) going into the matchup against the Colts about his style of play in 2022, and Bland takes it just as seriously, along with viewing himself a veteran mentally after being asked to step in and up for an injured Lewis.

"As soon as Jourdan Lewis went down, I knew what kind of role I had to come in and fill — helping to be a leader for our defense," said Bland."That's one thing I had to focus on as a rookie, just having that mindset that I'm not a rookie anymore. I have to be a vet."

The fact the Cowboys are getting all of this from a[nother] rookie is unheard of, but you can bet it's also due to the fact Bland still feels a way about falling to the fifth round in April. That might be something he'll never forget and will forever use to power his impact at the NFL level.

"There's always going to be a chip on my shoulder coming in as a fifth-round pick," he said. "I feel like I could've [gone higher], but it is what it is."

And "what it is" is another potential star in the making at The Star.

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