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Cowboys' Defensive Line: No Pedigree? No Problem

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Cowboys DL: No Pedigree, No Problem

Frank Heinz, NBC DFW

RGIII fumbles after the Cowboys defensive front collapsed his protection.

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Dallas Cowboys "unknown" players step-up for the big win against the Washington Redskins.
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Josh Brent.
Tyrone Crawford.
Jay Ratliff.
Ben Bass.
Anthony Spencer.
DeMarcus Ware.

At this point, it’s hard to believe Cowboys’ defensive line coach Rod Marinelli has enough healthy bodies. Much less an impactful front four.

With the above names all out of uniform for reasons ranging from injury to DUI-forced retirement, the Cowboys are down to a defensive line you wouldn’t recognize if they showed up at your door trick-or-treating … in uniform. Yet, somehow, they harassed and bothered and sacked and kept getting after Redskins’ quarterback Robert Griffin III in last Sunday night’s win.

“Relentless,” head coach Jason Garrett keeps calling the line, which then ultimately changes some more.

The grand plan was Ware and Spencer at end, book-ending Ratliff and Hatcher at tackle. The swing end would be Crawford. The swing tackle? Brent. But as the Cowboys prepare to play the Eagles Sunday in Philadelphia with first place in the NFC East on the line, they’re down to only Hacher. And a bunch of guys you’ve never heard of.

Until now.

Nick Hayden. George Selvie. Caesar Rayford. David Carter. Drake Nevis. They won’t exactly remind us of names like White and Lilly and Martin and Jones and Haley, but what the Cowbackupboys lack in pedigree they’re making up for in passion.

Hayden is a journeyman, cut by the Panthers and Bengals. When Rayford was acquired in September trade from the Colts, his name was initially misspelled on his Valley Ranch locker. Carter was picked up after being released by the Cardinals. Nevis is a former LSU star, cut by the Colts and Chargers and only signed by Dallas in late September.

And, in the wake of Ware being sidelined for the first time in his career with a thigh injury, add another new name to the mix: Jarius Wynn. He won a Super Bowl ring with the Packers but has recently been cut by the Titans and Chargers. Another cast-off asked to be a cog.

It's like a surreal spin-off: From the producers of The Island of Misfit Toys, comes The D-Line of Misfit 'Boys.

Hatcher had two more sacks against Washington and Kyle Wilber produced the game’s biggest play with a sack-and-strip of RG3. But – other than the 45-yard touchdown run – the guys that bottled up and shut down Alfred Morris and the Redskins were Cowboys that weren’t drafted, weren’t in training camp and certainly weren’t counted on when the 2013 season dawned.

“Rod’s done a great job of getting those guys – no matter who they are – to compete and produce,” Garrett said. “Don’t expect that to change now. Those guys have a relentless spirit about them.”

Then: Doomsday Defense.

Now: Armageddon Anonymity.

A native Texan who was born in Duncanville and graduated from UT-Arlington, Richie Whitt has been a mainstay in the Metroplex media since 1986. He’s held prominent roles on all media platforms including newspaper (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Observer), radio (105.3 The Fan) and TV (co-host on TXA 21 and numerous guest appearances, including NBC 5). He currently writes a sports/guy stuff blog at DFWSportatorium.com and lives in McKinney with his fiancee, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.

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