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Mailbag: Any unsung heroes besides Lawrence?


With another amazing season, DeMarcus Lawrence has become the definition of an unsung. But who's another unsung hero we're really not hearing about. Someone who put in the work and it's paid off for the team? – Michael Moore/Meridian, ID

Nick Eatman: I think when you cover the team the way we do, especially with multiple podcasts five times a week, it's really hard to have anyone be an "unsung" hero or fly under the radar. We just seem to talk about everyone, especially the ones that are playing well. I think Osa Odighizuwa is a good one, but to me, Stephon Gilmore really doesn't get the credit he deserves. Remember, he was supposed to be the No. 2 guy here with Trevon Diggs on the opposite side. But Diggs gets hurt in Week 3 and then DaRon Bland takes off with the interceptions and all the pix-sixes. But Gilmore, to me, has been a steady force the entire season. He's very low-key and doesn't get riled up with anything. Just goes out and plays his side and rarely gives up any big plays. I think Bland has been a lot more hit-and-miss with great plays and some ones that have gone against him. But without the steadiness of Gilmore this year, I don't think the Cowboys have this much success on defense.

Kurt: When a team earns 12 wins in three consecutive seasons, you can bet there are a number of unsung heroes. Everyone has to be pulling the rope together to achieve that kind of success. Defensively, you can look at guys like Malik Hooker, Markquese Bell and even Juanyeh Thomas. All have been solid while largely flying under the radar. But then there is Osa Odighizuwa, who spent the offseason following a training program inspired by three-time Defensive Player of the Year winner Aaron Donald. Needless to say, it paid off as Odighizuwa was one of the Cowboys' offseason award winners. Now, does he put up huge sack numbers? No, but he was second on the team in quarterback hits and third in tackles for loss while playing the highest percentage of snaps among Dallas defensive linemen. In his rookie year of 2021, Pro Football Focus ranked Odighizuwa 89th out of 108 defensive interior linemen. Last season, he was 41st out of 127. This year? PFF has him 14th out of 131. That's an impressive climb. In truth, the Cowboys may not have finished as the NFL's fifth-ranked defense without him.

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