Unlikely Gachkar Could Fill Cowboys' Temporary Hole in the Middle

Because of suspensions, injuries and surprises, the Cowboys’ starting middle linebacker Sept. 13 against the Giants just might be a guy who has never played the position.

Andrew Gachkar, front and center. And, yes, middle.

With Rolando McClain suspended the first four games and Anthony Hitchens out with a sprained foot, it appears that the free agent signed mostly for his special teams acumen just might be the Cowboys’ starter in Week 1. He started there last week against the Vikings and had five tackles. That, after most of training camp playing on the strong and/or weak sides of the defense.

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The Cowboys’ hope is that Hitchens heals in time for the opener. Kyle Wilber is an option, as he started in the middle against the 49ers. And, of course, they have a pretty good fallback option in Sean Lee.

But in a pinch, Gachkar has proven he can at least temporary fill the middle. He was signed in March as a backup to all three linebacker spots, as well has his play on special teams.

“Until you get a guy here and you put him in those spots, you never really know,” head coach Jason Garrett said of Gachkar. “And that game the other night was a good game for him, to play Mike linebacker and be as productive as he was, and really look as natural and as comfortable as he did, I thought that was really important in the game. Sometimes a guy will take some plays, but then if you look at the whole body of work across the game, it was like, ‘Boy, he didn’t really have an understanding there, he kind of missed the gap there.’ I don’t know that we had very many of those, so I thought it was an impressive performance.”

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 lives in McKinney with his wife, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.

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