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Gameday: Rudolph Matchup Key To Cowboys' Success


Cowboys OG Mackenzy Bernadeau vs. Vikings DT Kevin Williams

The injury to Brian Waters puts Mackenzy Bernadeau back into the starting lineup for a matchup against the powerful Kevin Williams. When you study Williams' game, when he comes off the ball, there is a surge and if you are not ready for it, he can put you in a very bad position.

He is a hard guy to handle because of that strength, and when he gets his hands inside, he can really get some push. Bernadeau is going to have to be careful when Williams is on the move when the Vikings line slants or angles. If Bernadeau does not work his body or feet in front of him, he is going to be up the field and affecting the play.

Where Williams can also be dangerous is how he plays against your running game. There are plenty of tackles in this league that will not work down the line and make plays outside the tackle box. Williams is not one of those guys, because his effort is outstanding despite being a veteran player.

As hard as it will be for Bernadeau to get push up the field on Williams, he must fight to sustain those blocks and not give them up quickly, because if he does, Williams will make those plays on the spot. If Mackenzy Bernadeau does not play on his feet and sustain blocks in this game, Kevin Williams will cause some serious issues.    

Cowboys S Barry Church and Jeff Heath vs. Minnesota TE Kyle Rudolph

When a quarterback struggles to make plays, the first person they will look to for some simple throws is the tight end. Both Josh Freeman and Christain Ponder have had their share of problems sustaining drives, and, other than handing the ball to Adrian Peterson, Kyle Rudolph is the next best option to get the ball to. [embedded_ad]

Throughout this season, this Cowboys defense has played against some outstanding tight ends, whether it has been Antonio Gates or Julius Thomas, but Kyle Rudolph presents a whole different set of problems. Rudolph has hands like a receiver and the same type of body control. 

He is difficult to match because of his size, and he knows how to use his body to position himself in the route up the field to receive the ball. He is a very quarterback-friendly player, because it is rare not to see him in position to make a play – you can throw the ball anywhere near him and he will make the catch.

Rudolph is not a stiff when it comes to athletic ability. There is bend and flex to his game. He can line up anywhere in the formation and function just fine. He does a nice job when he has to block at the point of attack, and his size really helps him here. My gut tells me that these Vikings coaches are going to try and take advantage of this matchup early in the game.

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