FRISCO, Texas – Without a doubt, the Cowboys made a serious effort this offseason to upgrade the defensive line. Not only with that unit have new players, but even a new-look scheme and philosophy as well.
New faces on the D-line include Dontari Poe, Everson Griffin and Aldon Smith – veteran additions with a combined seven Pro Bowls between them. The Cowboys even signed six-time Pro Bowl tackle Gerald McCoy but an injury in camp led to his release.
Still, despite the upgrades, don't forget another player who will be "added" to the defensive line this year.
Tyrone Crawford missed all but one game last season due to an injury that eventually required two hip surgeries.
The veteran is back and once again, his position flex and durability have him playing all over the line. Whether he's lining up at end or tackle, and whether the Cowboys are in a 3-4 defense or a 4-3 scheme, Crawford is just happy to be in the trenches again.
"I missed everything. I missed being on that field. Just playing football," Crawford said. "Making that big hit, going to war. I like the battle aspect of all this. I like that trench-warfare that I get to be a part of it every week. That's just who I am. I like to battle."
And it's always easier to battle alongside some talented players like this group. The new players, coupled with DeMarcus Lawrence on the edge, have created a stable of defensive linemen that could very well be the best Crawford has seen since he was drafted back in 2012.
"I've definitely played alongside a lot of dogs over my time here," Crawford said. "But this group has the potential to be one of the best. The guys that we have on the outside that can play inside and can also rush inside. Just how we can mix it up and just get after the quarterback and put a big stop on the run. It looks good to me right now.
"I feel pretty good about where we're at. We've put in the work. I'm excited to get going with this group of men."
Whether the linemen are new to the team like Poe, Griffen or even third-round pick Neville Gallimore, or a longtime vet such as Crawford, they're all adjusting to new defensive line coach Jim Tomsula.
Last week on a conference call with the media, Tomsula mentioned the competitive nature of Crawford, even recalling a recent argument on the field about playing time.
"He's been good for the guys in our room," Crawford said of Tomsula. "He doesn't sugarcoat anything. It's been good for our D-line. I feel like his coaching approach is what that group of men, including me, needs. He's going to rock with us and we're going to have some fun this year."