An injury to star ILB Sean Lee has left the Dallas defense in a precarious spot. At the beginning of camp we felt we were blessed to have three quality ILBs in Lee, Bruce Carter and Dan Connor. With Lee out for the season and Connor having not yet met the expectations we had for him, things are looking bleak in the middle of our linebacker corps. One option that I find interesting is that the Cowboys may consider using newly signed safety Charlie Peprah in a hybrid S/LB role. A second contingency plan that is availible to the Cowboys is inserting newly signed LB Ernie Sims into the role. Neither of these options is ideal but given the state of affairs at Valley Ranch, one of the two may be the route Rob Ryan is forced to take. Just to get us all up to speed, let's take a look at each of our new Cowboys.
Peprah is a Texas boy, having played his high school ball for Plano East High school. He is 5'11 202lbs and played college ball for the University of Alabama, where he earned second team All-SEC honors after his senior year. He played both corner and safety while a member of the Crimson Tide. In 2006, he was taken by the New York Giants in the sixth round. The Green Bay Packers claimed Peprah off waivers when he failed to make the Giants roster that season. His first two seasons with the Pack, Charlie contributed mostly on special teams. His third year saw Peprah earn some playing time in the Packer secondary as well as being a key component of the Green Bay ST unit. He then moved on to Atlanta where he only saw ST duty in two games. For 2010 Charlie Peprah returned to Green Bay to be a special teams ace, but due to injuries he was pressed into duty in the secondary. At times he did come up big for the Packers including during the Super Bowl. Returning home to the DFW area for the biggest game of his life, Charlie Peprah led all defenders with 10 tackles as the Pack defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers. For his efforts, Charlie was rewarded wit a 2 year 2.5 million dollar deal. In 2011, he started every game at SS for the packers making 94 tackles, forcing 1 fumble, and picking off 5 passes. One of these he returned for a touchdown.
One unusual fact about Peprah is that his maternal grandfather was the military dictator of Ghana and that his father was one of the dictator's military supporters. When the grandfather was ousted and executed Peprah's mother and father fled to the United States, where they married. After they divorced the elder Peprah returned to his native Ghana, while Charlie and his mother remained in Plano.
Sims earned a high school varsity letter at North Florida Christian High School as an eighth grader. Coming out of high school he was considered the top high school LB prospect in the country. He chose Florida St. over a host of big name schools and became a starting LB there during his sophomore season. After that season he was names second team All-ACC and ESPN named him as its 1st team All-American. Although expectations were high his junior season did not live up to the promise of the season that preceeded it. None the less, Sims chose to forgo his senior season and jump to the NFL. Detroit LionsGM Matt Millan took Sims with the ninth overall pick in 2006. Sims stated every game his rookie year and collected 124 tackles on the season. The following year he was named as one of 5 Lion captains. His coach that season, Rod Marinelli, compared Sims favorably to a young Derrick Brooks. From Detroit, Sims moved on to undistinguished tours with both the Philadelphia Eagles and the Indianapolis Colts. Sadly he never lived up to the potential that he showed in his earlier years.
It is clear that the Dallas Cowboyswere forced into a situation where we can only hope that these two new members of the team are counted on to be servicable at best. Each showed bright promise early in his career but neither has consistantly met expectations. I would not want to bet the farm on either guy, but of the two, Charlie Peprah is the one who stands the better chance of bringing something to the table. In my opinion it is time for Dan Connor, Alex Albright and/or Orie Lemonto step up and earn their keep. Peprah and Sims may be enough to fill their ST roles. That is the best we can really hope for.