IRVING, Texas – Ben Bass' one sack in the Cowboys' first preseason game marked exactly half the amount of sacks he had his entire senior year at Texas A&M.
The Plano West product didn't put up stellar college numbers before joining the Cowboys' rookie minicamp. But after a five-tackle, one-sack performance in the preseason opener and working with defensive line coaches Brian Baker and Leon Lett while on the practice squad, Bass is getting his shot at the professional level.
The Cowboys brought Bass to the active roster this week when they moved defensive end Kenyon Coleman to Injured Reserve. It wasn't long ago Bass was sitting at rookie minicamp, just hoping he could make the practice squad.
"I was just out there practicing, waiting for my shot if it did come," Bass said. "Now that it's here, I feel like I'm ready and I haven't missed a step. I've prepared myself well."
Bass was noticeable on the defensive line throughout training camp. Head coach Jason Garrett could tell early on that Bass belonged on the Cowboys in some capacity, taking advantage of the few opportunities that came his way.
"He grew before your eyes and just made a lot of plays both defending the run and also rushing the passer," Garrett said. "He's a guy who kind of came from nowhere, certainly from obscurity, and showed us he deserved to be on this football team. He did a really good job."
Bass started just one game as a senior at Texas A&M, recording 26 tackles and two sacks. He had seven tackles and one sack as a junior.
While his 6-foot-5 frame might have reeled in scouts, his college production couldn't have. But he said he had an idea after his final snap for the Aggies that he'd get a chance at the NFL as long as he prepared himself the right way getting ready for his college Pro Day. He didn't hold a grudge against Texas A&M about his lack of playing time.
"I'm here," Bass said. "It was enough to get me to this point, so that's what matters."
The defensive end made noise in training camp and burst onto the scene in the first preseason game, but he never got much playing time afterward, perhaps so the Cowboys could sneak him onto their practice squad.
The move paid off, as Bass worked on the scout team through the entire first half of the season, where he apparently gave the offensive line starters fits.
"He beat the offensive line up pretty good," said defensive end Jason Hatcher. "It's hard for them to block him. So that just lets you know he's ready to roll. Nothing against our offensive line, that just shows you what kind of player he is to play some snaps. You always get what you deserve. His time is now. Hopefully he'll go in and take care of business."
Garrett said he'll wait to see how Bass practices this week before deciding if or how much the rookie defensive end can get into the game, but Garrett prefers to have six linemen in the defensive rotation.
Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan hasn't shied away from playing everyone in uniform, even if they've only been with the team a few days. It wouldn't be a shock if Bass played immediately.
"He hasn't played a lot as an NFL player, but he's shown us a lot," Garrett said. "What we've tried to do as coaches is give these guys chances. We've had a lot of young players step up and do some things for us so far this year. He's certainly going to have a role for our football team this week and in the coming weeks."
Bass isn't expecting to just wear a uniform this weekend against Cleveland. He said he's going to play and he'll prepare himself accordingly. One year after finishing 16th in tackles in his final season at Texas A&M, Bass is about to contribute for the Dallas Cowboys.
"If somebody gets tired, I'm in there," Bass said. "I'm second string. I've got to be ready to roll."
Also lining up at defensive end will be fellow rookie Tyrone Crawford, who will likely split reps with Marcus Spears. Garrett said Bass and Crawford can eventually be a formidable pair if they get stronger in the weight room this offseason. The friendship developed between the two young linemen reminds Hatcher of the relationship he had with former Cowboys and current Redskins defensive lineman Stephen Bowen.
"Those two guys, they're the future here," Hatcher said. "I'm just going to enjoy my time and play my butt off while I'm here."