(Editor's Note: The offseason program is in full swing, and it's no longer too early to look ahead. As part of the preparation for training camp, this series will introduce 25 key players who are new to the Cowboys' roster, rookies and veterans alike. The series continues today with linebacker Damone Clark.)
How he got here: It's an annual storyline that hurts for the player and benefits the team. Clark was one of the most high-profile players in this year's draft class to suffer an injury setback. A second-team All-America and first-team All-SEC player at LSU, Clark was widely seen as a Top 100 prospect, until it was discovered at the NFL Combine that he would require surgery on a herniated disc in his neck. While he is expected to make a full recovery, the setback will likely cost Clark much of his rookie season, which is what eventually pushed him down to the fifth round of the 2022 NFL Draft, where the Cowboys picked him up with the No. 176 overall pick.
What's next: Sometimes things come strangely full circle. It was actually the Cowboys' medical staff that discovered the issue with Clark's neck during his Combine medicals, so it's safe to say Clark feels a level of comfort with the people in charge of his rehabilitation. Now, the goal will be getting him onto the field as quickly as possible. It's not going to be an overnight process, but Cowboys officials have raved about Clark's dedication and business-like approach. Asked about it during draft weekend, Cowboys chief operating officer Stephen Jones said he "absolutely" thought Clark could be available at some point during the 2022 season.
Bet you didn't know: The Cowboys are building a reputation for drafting LSU players – particularly defenders. Clark is the fifth LSU defender they've spent a pick on in the last 20 years, and the third linebacker -- along with last year's fourth-round pick, Jabril Cox, and 2003 fourth-rounder Bradie James, who went on to play 157 games and make 757 tackles for the team.
Quotable: "When you sat down and talked to him, he was all business, he was all about ball. "He wore that number at LSU for a reason, and you got that feeling when you met with him." – Cowboys executive vice president of player personnel, Will McClay