Who to Watch: 4 Defensive Rookies to Keep

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Our staff writers have each picked one defensive player to watch as the Cowboys get closer to roster cuts. These players should have a big role in Saturday’s game with the Texans.

Rob Phillips:

*Trysten Hill - *Defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli is seeing progress from the Cowboys’ second-round draft pick. Motor is never a problem for Hill; the 310-pound rookie defensive tackle brings it down after down. But Marinelli has seen better technique from Hill over the last week, and that will help him get home on more rushes. He’ll get more valuable reps Saturday. This is a good situation for Hill. The Cowboys probably aren’t asking him to play 50 snaps a game as a rookie. If he can be supplement what veterans such as Antwaun Woods and Maliek Collins do, the interior line will be in good shape.

David Helman:

*Donovan Wilson - *He might be a rookie, but Wilson got to run with the first team this week while Jeff Heath was dealing with an injury. To this point in camp, he doesn’t look like a rookie. He’s physical and confident, and he seems much more comfortable playing in coverage than the average sixth-round pick. Hopefully the coaching staff gives him a long look on Saturday night, as they try to get a handle on how this safety depth chart will shake out. It’s easy to feel optimistic that the Cowboys found themselves another late-round gem.

Nick Eatman:

Justin Phillips - This is amazing, considering he was cut just before camp, then called back and now has a shot to make this team. Not just the practice sdquad, but make the team. If Phillips can put together another solid performance, maybe even get his hands on another turnover, I think he’ll get on the team, especially if Luke Gifford is going to be placed on IR when the cuts come out next weekend. Phillips is very athletic and could be a good special teams player as well. But in my opinion, it’s either practice squad or the roster and Phillips needs one more good game to get on the 53.

Bryan Broaddus:

Joe Jackson - I currently have Joe Jackson on this roster. Has he had the type of practices and games like Kerry Hyder? No he hasn’t but the flash is there. I see the power/strength in his play but I have yet to see the consistency. At this point his play tends to come and go. This is where Hyder has been better. I do feel like this has to do more with the fact that Hyder is a veteran who has the experience. Jackson will gain that experience but it will likely be during practices rather than dressing for games. Keep an eye on Jackson these next two games playing a little defensive tackle. I noticed him doing this against the Rams last week and that’s not a bad idea to see how he handles that in the future.

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