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Cowboys Investment In DT Terrell McClain Paying Great Dividends

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By any view you want to take, Terrell McClain has been an big asset to the Dallas Cowboys this season.

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Defensive tackle Terrell McClain is playing a major role in the Cowboys success in the 2016 season. He has certainly come into his own as a member of Rod Marinelli's Merry Band of Rushman. He got things started off on a positive note during the week one loss at the hands of the New York Giants when he led all Dallas defensive linemen with five stops including one for a loss. On Sunday he improved on that performance. For the second time this season he had a five-tackle outing, but this time he was also credited for 1.5 sacks.

Not only did McClain get his hands on Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton and help bring him to the ground on two occasions, he made life difficult for the Cincinnati passer all afternoon long. He added three pressures to the mix as well. On a day when the defense turned in a spectacular performance, nobody outshined the 6' 2" 300-pounder out of the University of South Florida.

The quick start to the season stands in stark contrast to the disappointing 2015 season which McClain spent recovering from a toe injury. Last year big #97 was credited with just two tackles before spending the rest of the season on injured reserve. McClain is happy to be back on the field helping the Dallas Cowboys get the job done rather than focusing on his rehabilitation process.

"It felt good to be out there making plays. The past couple years have been frustrating, but you just keep working." Terrell McClain

The team is equally happy to have him out on the gridiron. McClain is in the midst of what is shaping up to be his best season as a professional. Twice in his career he has reached 19 tackles for the season. He is about to reach that plateau again after only five contests. With 11 games left to play Terrell is already credited with 17 tackles on the season.

Having McClain on the roster is a win both on and off the field for the Cowboys. Consider that his base salary is $1 million dollars and his cap hit is just $100,000 more, and you quickly see what a bargain he is. Jerry Jones & Co. are getting an incredible return on such a small investment.

The Cowboys went out and invested fairly substantial money in Cedric Thornton to play the 1-tech, signing him to a four-year, $17 million contract in the offseason. With McClain's injury history the Cowboys decided to bring in someone who was a known quantity. And while Thornton is not playing poorly, he did have a sack on Sunday, it's McClain who is the primary starter in the middle.

By any terms that you want to use, having Terrell McClain on the team has been a boon for Dallas. Outside of the possible exception of Morris Claiborne, he is the best return on investment that the Dallas defense has to offer this season. That value should only become greater as the season wears on.