The day we’ve all been waiting for has already arrived. The Dallas Cowboys have begun training camp. We’ve learned a few things at the opening of camp, one of which may have been a surprise to many and that’s the limited status of Pro Bowl defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence (PUP list). With Lawrence being eased back into action, there will be opportunities for other pass rushers to shine at camp. We talked about this idea yesterday when discussing the wide receivers and noted that Amari Cooper’s absence (also on PUP) would open things up for younger players to shine.
One pass rusher looking to make his presence felt is second-year defensive end Bradlee Anae. He was rarely used by defensive coordinator Mike Nolan last season after the team drafted him. Coming out of Utah, Anae was seen as a steal for the Cowboys in the fifth round thanks to his impressive pass rush skills that allowed him to rack up 29.5 sacks and 40 tackles for loss in three seasons in college. That didn’t translate into playing time in 2020 as Anae basically only saw the field on special teams. Many thought the Cowboys would have used him more than they did but instead he was buried on the roster with the additions of Randy Gregory and Aldon Smith who returned from suspensions.
Anae also had another bit of luck in terms of getting reps at training camp this year when it was announced rookie defensive end Chauncey Golston is dealing with a hamstring injury that will keep possibly keep him off the field for some time. Golston, like Lawrence, landed on the PUP list. If there was ever a chance for Anae to separate himself from the defensive ends on this roster fighting to make the team, this is the time.
To turn some heads and get a leg up, Anae will have to show off his assortment of pass rush moves that gave him an edge in college along with his quick burst off the line of scrimmage. Defensive coordinator Dan Quinn should be drawn to his aggressive style and high motor when rushing the passer. If Anae is able to display this while both Lawrence and Golston are working on the sidelines, he’s got a good shot at getting more playing time as the Cowboys still have a need for pass rushers behind Lawrence, Gregory, and Tarell Basham. A good start to camp would set Anae up for extensive playing time in the preseason games, the next step to working his way into the regular-season rotation.
Depending on how the reps are doled out at camp, Anae might even see some time against tackles Tyron Smith and La’el Collins, two of the Cowboys best linemen on this roster. Win some of those battles and the defensive coaches are forced to take notice and give Anae more opportunities. The roster spot is his for the taking, let’s see if he can take advantage of this situation.
We discussed everything that happened during the first day of Cowboys Camp on the Blogging The Boys YouTube Channel. Make sure to subscribe to our channel (which you can do right here) so you don’t miss any of our videos!