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Which Cowboys player can step in and replace Damien Wilson?

The Cowboys have strengthened their depth over the years, but which player would be next in line for a larger role if Damien Wilson is not available?

NCAA Football: Colorado at Southern California Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

We all had the same type of reaction when we heard the news....

It was a very frustrating feeling, like another defensive player was just floating away.

It was upsetting to hear the news about Cowboys linebacker Damien Wilson being arrested for aggravated assault. The Cowboys are aware of the situation and are probing for more information. While the facts of the incident still need to be collected, early reports aren’t good. Apparently, it all started over a parking spot...

This is what we’ve heard so far:

A police report said Wilson, 24, "intentionally" backed into the woman while parking and brandished a rifle at a man, "causing him to be in fear."

Officers arrested Wilson on two charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. He was taken to the Frisco jail and released after posting bond, Chandler said.

Frisco police are investigating the allegations. They declined to release more details on what led to Wilson's arrest but said no one else was taken into custody. Police also did not say whether the woman was injured.

Amanda Guerra of KRLD-AM reports that Wilson was looking for a place to park and got into an argument with a group of tailgaters who were taking up several spaces.

I don’t even have words to rationalize what goes through the mind of an NFL player when choosing to act out in these types of situations.

Initial reactions of fans after hearing of this incident range from “let’s wait and see what really happened” to the knee-jerk, “cut-him!” As what happens when any Cowboys player is in trouble, some fingers start pointing at their head coach, Jason Garrett.

It’s unclear how this will all play out, but if it ends unfavorably then it could leave the defense in a bind.

The good news is that Wilson is the number four linebacker behind Sean Lee, Jaylon Smith, and Anthony Hitchens. For a team that doesn’t use the base package of 4-3-4 the majority of the time, the need for a third linebacker on the field isn’t high. If Smith is as healthy as advertised and Hitchens continues to play at the level he’s shown in camp so far, then Cowboys LB group is sitting in great shape. Of course, it’s nice to have depth and that’s were Wilson comes in.

While Wilson might not be needed in the base or nickel (4-2-5), one position he would be good at is the Deacon LB spot when the Cowboys employ a 3-2-6 formation to counter against a spread offense. Dallas used this formation many times last year as they tried to have more defensive backs help in coverage. Sean Lee and Justin Durant were the linebackers used because of their skills in pass coverage. Durant is gone now and Wilson was going to be a prime candidate to fill this role. But if he is unavailable, which defender would be best to assume this role? Smith is a great talent, but his mobility could make him a liability in pass coverage. That’s a lot to ask at this point during his recovery. And Hitchens isn’t really suited for that as well. The Cowboys need a player who is strong enough to flatten ball carriers, yet still quick enough to hang with a receiver.

This might be a little outside the box, but what about that Chidobe Awuzie fella? He’s an extremely versatile defensive back and SB Nation’s Alex Kirshner explains why he’s not your typical corner:

“I’m a cornerback that thinks like a Mike linebacker,” Awuzie told SB Nation in an interview. He clearly prizes hitting and tackling, traits not instantly associated with most cornerbacks.

He has the traits to be a physical tackler and the quickness to be a force in coverage.

Awuzie’s an ultra-physical, search-and-destroy defender.

His play style really is sort of linebacker-ish. During a four-year run at Colorado, Awuzie played outside cornerback, nickelback, and safety. He never became an interception master (he had three in four years), but he knocked down a bunch of passes and made a bunch of tackles.

“Learning defenses, being able to prepare for other teams, and really understanding the game and understanding what everybody else is doing, I think that separates me,” he said. “My instincts, my cerebral-ness as a football player.”

Awuzie is a great blitzing defender and would have no problem assuming those type of responsibilities.

Wilson played 283 defensive snaps last season. And while the team may find a player to fill his Deacon role, they’ll need to find a regular linebacker to call upon in case a starter gets hurt. Players like Kyle Wilber and Mark Nzeocha would be next in line, but could a new addition find his way onto the field? John Lotulelei, Joseph Jones, and Lucas Wacha are some darker horses whose chances to make the team might have gotten a little better now.

And then let’s not forget Wilson’s contribution on special teams. He logged 340 snaps on ST, which is second most on the team, trailing only Jeff Heath. The Cowboys have a lot of athletic players that are capable of playing special teams, but Wilson is one of the better players on Rich Bisaccia’s squad. Could this make a player like Rod Smith become more important?

If Wilson isn’t available to play for an extended amount of time this season, which player(s) do you think would be best to be the “next man up?”

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