FRISCO, Texas — With the season-ending injury to Trevon Diggs, it is now up to DaRon Bland to make an impact as an outside corner – just one year after he had to step in at nickel following a season-ending injury to Jourdan Lewis.
Bland took advantage of that opportunity in his rookie season by excelling at the position and leading the team with five interceptions, and now he will have the chance to do it again the rest of the way on the boundary.
"Very comfortable in DaRon, very confident," head coach Mike McCarthy said on Friday. "He has always stepped up and played. He's very professional for a young player, and this is an opportunity that he'll take the challenge."
For Bland, while he was "devastated" when Diggs went down on Thursday, he feels more prepared to step in and fill the big role for the Dallas defense after last season's experience.
"You don't ever want a player or teammate to have an injury, especially an injury like that," Bland said. "It's still a game I've been playing. I've been playing mostly inside for the last year, so moving back outside will be good. Just gotta keep my head straight."
With the experience under his belt and the direction of veteran cornerback Stephon Gilmore on the other side, Bland feels prepared more than ever to take advantage of the opportunity in front of him.
"Definitely a lot more comfortable," he said. "I feel like I'm not playing as much on instincts. I'm able to get better at my technique. I've never felt more prepared, also just having that experience of being in the league already."
Something that stood out about Bland during his breakout rookie season was him taking an opportunity in stride and never flinching. A young player that has been praised by many in the organization for his ability to stay composed, Bland is ready to take that mentality back to the field with the new challenge ahead of him.
"It's the culture we have built here at the Cowboys," he said. "Coming in, it was just easy to fall in with just having that neutral mindset. Playing this game and playing corner, you gotta have that neutral mindset because you'll have those highs and lows."
Following Diggs' injury on Thursday, Bland was able to get some reps in practice playing outside corner, but Mike McCarthy said on Friday that a final decision won't be made on the personnel for Sunday's game against Arizona until Saturday afternoon.