During the 2013 preseason, rookie linebacker DeVonte Holloman certainly made an impression on many of us. During the Cowboys five preseason games the young player out of the University of South Carolina had 15 tackles, a sack, two interceptions, and two passes defensed. As a result, big things were expected during the season. He was starting to show the ability to live up to expectations by contributing four tackles on defense and another four on special teams. Then, in what has become the story of the Dallas Cowboys over the past two seasons, along came the injury bug. Holloman suffered contusions of his C3 and C4 vertebrae during practice.
Holloman had been a pleasant surprise for the team, as Bryan Broaddus explained over at the mothership.
There is a side of me that believed if DeVonte Holloman would have not got injured in practice several weeks ago, that he would have taken the starting Sam linebacker job away from Justin Durant by now. I honestly mean this as no shot at Durant but there is something to Holloman’s game and the way that he carries himself on the field even as a rookie where he could have handled this job. There are certain players in this league that the ball tends to find them on the field.
Now thanks to the hamstring injuries suffered by both Sean Lee and Justin Durant, it appears that the former Gamecock is getting a second opportunity to make a significant contribution during his rookie season. According to published reports, DeVonte Holloman has been getting some of the first team reps during practice, and it is expected that he will serve as the strong-side linebacker when the Cowboys are in their base defense against the New York Giants, and he may also split snaps with Ernie Sims when the team runs its nickel package. While he may not have the experience of the two men he will be replacing, head coach Jason Garrett believes in the young player's ability to be a suitable fill-in for the team.
"He’s an inexperienced player. He hasn’t played that much for us, but when he’s played, he’s done some good things, you know, as a special teams guy, spot play on defense. Has a good instinct for playing. Seems to be around the ball and makes a lot of plays. We feel good about where he is physically. We’re going to let him go, We’re going to let him practice and see how he responds." - Jason Garrett
Against the NFC East rival Giants, Holloman and his colleagues are going to face a serious test; the G-men like to run the ball downhill, so the Dallas linebackers are going to have to be strong at the point of attack if the team expects to shut down the New York running game and force Eli Manning to make plays against them. So far, the rookie class of 2013 has shown that they are capable of stepping up and delivering on the promise that they brought into the league, and, on Sunday, the next rookie up, DeVonte Holloman, will have an opportunity to make his mark. The Dallas Cowboys are counting on him.