HONOLULU – In the late stages of a preseason game, it’s easy to spot good play when it happens.
In a game that featured 29 total penalties and four turnovers, Donovan Olumba was one of those bright spots.
From the time the Cowboys’ starters hit the bench, the second-year cornerback started making plays. From the midpoint of the first half until the final moments of the game, he flashed his ability and finished with five tackles, a tackle for loss and a pass breakup.
“When I get out there, I just want to keep on showing what type of player I am,” Olumba said afterward. “I always have that chip on my shoulder. Just out to prove to everyone that I can play.”
It’s a pretty classic preseason football story. Olumba signed in Dallas as an undrafted free agent last year, and he spent his rookie season on the practice squad. Here in the second training camp of his young career, he has put his name on the radar with a series of strong practices going back over the last two weeks.
“He has good instincts around the ball,” said Cowboys coach Jason Garrett. “He’s got long arms. He makes a lot of plays on the ball -- PBU after PBU in practice, couple of them today in the ballgame.”
That more than anything is what stood out – Olumba kept making plays around the ball. He did manage the one PBU on a deep shot in the fourth quarter, although he said he thought he should’ve intercepted it. He broke up another pass at the tail end of the game, although a coach’s challenge deemed the play to be defensive pass interference.
“He ran into me, and I thought I tried to protect myself,” Olumba said. “But I think they saw me grab a little bit inside of his jersey. So I mean they just called it. I thought it was clean.”
Regardless, it didn’t seem as if the moment was too big for Olumba – to borrow a popular phrase from Garrett. Whether it’s a crowd of several hundred at training camp or a television audience, he said he doesn’t notice a difference.
“It’s all the same. Football is football,” he said. “The game might be a little faster, but it’s the game I’ve been playing since fifth grade. It’s always going to be the same.”
That’s the type of confidence a cornerback needs to make it in the NFL. If Olumba can continue to showcase it during the final two weeks of camp, he may give the Cowboys something to think about.