A strong faction of Cowboys fans and writers were left scratching their heads last April when, after going into the draft with an aging defensive line, they went seven rounds without addressing the need at all.
The decision to target other needs caught up with the Cowboys quickly. Jay Ratliff was injured in training camp and eventually cut, Anthony Spencer was placed to IR after playing in one game and recording two tackles, and DeMarcus Ware spent the season playing through back and elbow issues, and was forced to miss three games with a quad injury. And that’s just the starters.
Reserve defensive ends Ben Bass and Tyrone Crawford each went down with season-ending injuries, as well.
But unable to foresee this spate of health issues, Jerry Jones said he went into the draft feeling confident in the group, and convinced he and the Cowboys could be picky about defensive linemen.
“So I thought, yeah, we thought we could be pretty selective before we took a defensive lineman,” Jones said, per the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “But that just shows you, you can be long or feel pretty good about where you are as a team and a position and then very quickly get in a pretty compromised spot relative to injury.
“But injury is there for everybody and impacted everybody this year. And most clubs that I saw did a good job of handling the injury and compensating for it. I thought that we did a good job, but it was, relative to what we have to have--most teams do--but what we have to have in this scheme, this first-year scheme, when we were going in with Kiffin, we really needed a lot of pressure from that front seven and that front four, and we were compromised.”
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