ARLINGTON, Texas - Admit it, you likely believed Damone Clark wouldn't see the field in 2022, but you weren't alone - as many thought his spinal fusion procedure performed in March would cause him to essentially be redshirted as an NFL rookie. He beat all of the odds in Week 8 for the Dallas Cowboys, however, doing more than simply taking the field for his professional debut.
The rookie fifth-round pick was thrown into the fire with gasoline pants on, the Cowboys forced to scrap any plan they had to ramp him up over the next few weeks on the defensive side of the ball when four-time Pro Bowl linebacker Anthony Barr went down late in the second quarter with a hamstring injury.
The bright-eyed rookie took the field and went on to impact it with six combined tackles - Barr eventually being ruled out altogether - and nearly had a sack that was ultimately attributed to DeMarcus Lawrence (Lawrence finished the sack solo, but it was arguably at least 0.5 sack that should've been awarded to both).
"Damone's like my little brother - I remember when he got drafted," said First-Team All-Pro linebacker Micah Parsons after seeing with Clark did and was asked to quickly become for the defense against Justin Fields and the Bears. "He reached out to me and said, 'Hey man, I'm super happy to play with you.' He just asked me a bunch of questions and I knew about his injury."
It was at that point that Parsons gave the former First-Team all-conference talent some advice that would turn out to be rather prophetic.
"He was frustrated about not playing," said Parsons. I'm just telling him, 'Be patient. Your time's coming. Your time is coming.'"
That time arrived on Sunday, Oct. 30, and Clark left plenty of quality items on film.
His six tackles were good enough for second-most on the team and, at first blush, he suffered exactly zero missed tackles in nearly 2.5 quarters of work. It's a solid foundation to build upon, both from a football standpoint and mentally - considering he's returning from a major surgical procedure that could've kept him out until 2023.
Instead, Clark answered the bell and showed the Cowboys why he might be the steal of the 2022 NFL Draft and, if he can become what the team believes he can, it might be more accurate to describe it as armed robbery.