FRISCO, Texas – Back in mid-May, we were out at Dr. Pepper Ballpark for The Salvation Army Home Run Derby fundraiser.
DeMarcus Lawrence already had signed his franchise tag qualifying offer of $17.1 million for the 2018 season. He was a happy camper, despite not coming to terms with the Cowboys on a suitable long-term deal after finishing with a career-high 14½ sacks in 2017, good for second in the NFL.
There had been so much noise swirling around with folks wondering if the Cowboys' fifth-year defensive end was one of those one-hit wonders, since eight was the most sacks he ever recorded in any of his previous three seasons. Thus, the question became:
Could Lawrence do it again?
And who knows, maybe that's the question the Cowboys were asking themselves, possibly preventing them from coming to terms with their leading pass rusher on a long-term deal since he only had nine sacks in those other three seasons. That, or possibly the back issues he had been dealing with, having surgery on the same herniated disk after his second and third seasons in the league.
Maybe they had adopted a Show Me attitude, too.
So, after D-Law had taken a round of hacks at the plate, I told him about the conversation I had with a national radio show, that I had said "yes" he could do this again, pointing out the injuries that had gotten in his way two of those seasons, plus his fractured fifth metatarsal his rookie season and that he produced eight sacks in his only other healthy season (2015).
When he heard that, his eyes widened and focused hard on me. His response was, "Don't need to say yes, just say, 'Stay tuned.'"
Shaking his head up and down for emphasis, he emphatically repeated himself, "Stay tuned."
Oh, we have DeMarcus. Oh we have. After four games, Lawrence leads the NFL with 5½ sacks. That's somewhat of a torrid pace, factoring out to 22 in a 16-game season. That would be a half-sack behind Michael Strahan's single-season record set in 2001.
And check out his stat line from this past Sunday's 26-24 victory over Detroit: 8 tackles, 3 tackles for a loss, 3 sacks, 3 quarterback hits. Good enough for Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett to give him the defense's game ball. But not good enough to win him NFC Defensive Player of the Week. Winner was Saints linebacker Demario Davis: 11 tackles, 2 TFL and two sacks.
Lawrence admits he's heard all that one-hit-wonder noise, too.
"I am basically trying to show the world that I am no one-trick pony," he said. "Every time I step on the field, I am here to put on a show.
And a show he has.
Continue to tune in.
· Just For Kicks: Maybe D-Law didn't win NFC Player of the Week because the league wants to spread these awards around from team to team. And there is little doubt Cowboys kicker Brett Maher was going to take the special teams award for his four field-goal performance, including his first game-winner in the NFL from 38-yards out as time expired to give the Cowboys a 26-24 victory over Detroit. Two days later Cowboys owner/GM Jerry Jones gave us all a good laugh. "I know this, right before the kick, I think Stephen (Jones) punched me and said, 'You know it's South American for us if he misses this thing,'" he says. And don't you know that was on most fans' minds after the Cowboys decided to part ways with Dan Bailey at final cuts in favor of Maher, who by the way, after missing his first NFL field-goal attempt has made eight straight. Mine, too.
· Put A Ring On It: Jerry Jones spilled a few beans when interviewed for the NFL Network's A Football Life on former Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo when he said Romo would go into the team's Ring of Honor. He doubled down on that proclamation Tuesday on 105.3 The Fan, confirming his statement. Now the key thing here is, Jerry didn't say when. Didn't say this year, next year, in five years. Still think former personnel director Gil Brandt, nominated for the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a contributor, should be next.
· All About Sacks: The Cowboys rank third in team sacks with 14, three behind Indianapolis and four behind the Chicago Bears' 18. The Colts made their move into second with seven sacks Sunday against Houston. Now when it comes to having your quarterback sacked, the Cowboys' 14 is fifth most. In the lead is Buffalo with 21, and the seven the Texans gave up to the Colts vaulted them into second most with 17. Seattle and Cleveland are tied with 16.
· Speed Rushing: Only one NFL running back has beaten Ezekiel Elliott to 3,000 career rushing yards. That would be Eric Dickerson, who clipped that mark in 27 games. Zeke, with 3,040 rushing yards, reached 3,000 with his 152-yard rushing performance against Detroit, in his 29th NFL game. That, though links him with some pretty fancy company, Jim Brown and Clinton Portis. Also, if you are a stat geek, since Zeke entered the league in 2016 he has totaled 20 games with 100-plus yards from scrimmage, tied for the most with the currently idle Le'Veon Bell.
· Final Shot: Everyone is in a hurry to see David Irving get on the field following his four-game suspension to start the season. Well, think about this: Wednesday was his first football practice in pads since Nov. 26 of last year. Remember he missed the final four games of 2017, and did not participate in any of the offseason OTAs or the minicamp, let alone training camp. Might be a sore puppy Thursday.