It's time for training camp battle number seven in our countdown. Based on an article at the mothership, we're looking at areas that are in flux and where we expect to see players competing for the job this August in Oxnard. Previously we did backup QB, free safety, and third corner. Now, we'll take a look at the middle of the defensive line, the 1-technique tackle.
We know that Tyrone Crawford will be starting at the 3-tech tackle. He's predicted by many to have a true breakout year where he gets the sacks along with the pressures and tackles for loss. Next to him, at 1-tech, the incumbent is Nick Hayden. Can Hayden hold on to his starting position?
First we'll hear from the mothership:
7. Defensive Tackle – Defensive line is tricky, because Rod Marinelli intends to rotate eight or nine guys at the four positions. But the starting roles and the snap counts are up for debate – specifically at the one-technique defensive tackle spot. The Cowboys re-signed Nick Hayden, the starter for the past two years, during the spring. They have also raved about Terrell McClain’s offseason after he was hampered by injuries in 2014. There should be some competition there, and second-year tackle Ken Bishop could be a factor, as well.
Nick Hayden is a player that gets positive reviews for his effort, his brains and his durability. He's consistent and he's ready to go on Sunday. What he's not is a difference-maker. He's applauded for his efforts by some, including Rod Marinelli, and criticized for his efforts by others, like Pro Football Focus grades.
Complicating this issue is the willingness of Marinelli to move some of his bigger defensive ends to play in the middle. We fully expect to see Jeremy Mincey and Greg Hardy playing inside at different times. But in the base set, someone will be the starter at 1-tech. Hayden's competition includes Terrell McClain, who has shown flashes but wasn't healthy enough in 2014. Ken Bishop is also someone who could expand his role. The Cowboys went as far as re-signing Hayden this offseason when they could have easily let him go. That tells you what they think of him. But something tells me the more dynamic McClain will grab the lion's share of true 1-tech tackle snaps.
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