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Offseason | 2024

DaRon Bland has a different 'goal 'in mind for 2024


He started the season as the third cornerback on the roster. When the entire NFL season was over, DaRon Bland was one five finalists for NFL Defensive Player of the Year.

And in between, what a ride it was for Bland, who not only led the league with nine interceptions, but his stamp on NFL history in becoming the first player to ever return five picks for a touchdown in a single season.

The handful of Pick-6's was truly the highlight of Bland's season, which also included an All-Pro selection and a trip to the Pro Bowl.

Bland said it was kind of "surreal" to think back at the start of the season and finishing with him participating with the NFC roster at the Pro Bowl and then suited up at NFL Honors among the best players in the league.

"I just tried to have a lot of fun with it," said Bland, who admits he was a little disappointed he didn't win Defensive Player of the Year, which went to Cleveland's Myles Garrett. "It was an honor to just be a nominee. But I definitely thought I had a shot with the season that I had. But it was cool to just be there."

And the reason he was "there" was because of the nine interceptions he had in 2023, which begs the question on what he plans to do for an encore this year.

However, Bland might be keeping his own personal goals to himself, but said he's focused more on the bigger picture.

"I'm thinking about a little bit of everything," Bland said. "It's hard to put out some personal goals right now after last season. It's really important for us to focus on our team goals right now."

And that starts with the defense, which will certainly have a different look with new defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer, but also in the secondary. With Trevon Diggs coming back from an ACL injury, he's expected to start alongside Bland. But the Cowboys also have two unrestricted free agents at cornerback in Stephon Gilmore and Jourdan Lewis, coupled with the upcoming draft.

But Bland said he's not worried how the lineups will "shake out" or even meshing with his new DC.

Bland was just seven years old the last time Zimmer coached the Cowboys and admitted he wasn't that familiar with his coaching style in Minnesota.

But he's already heard about Zimmer's intensity and hard-nosed coaching style, which doesn't bother Bland at all.

"That's great for me. My hardest coach ever was my dad.," Bland said. "To me, nobody would ever be harder on me than him. I'm just excited to get started again."

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