A lot has been said about the Cowboys’ linebackers this offseason, and training camp has begun to offer a little bit of clarity on each individual player’s standing with the team. Rookie Micah Parsons built on his strong training camp by having a big preseason debut on Thursday, which was highlighted by a fumble recovery. But Parsons wasn’t the only rookie linebacker who made a good impression in the game.
Jabril Cox, the former LSU Tiger who fell to Dallas in the fourth round, was notably getting little burn in training camp leading up to the Hall of Fame game, and thus found himself fairly low on the depth chart. But all that may be changing after Cox’s impressive performance against Pittsburgh.
It took a while for Cox to get in the game, but he didn’t waste the opportunity. Cox finished in a tie with rookie cornerback Nahshon Wright for the most tackles on the Dallas defense with five. There was one tackle in particular where Cox did a good job of disengaging from his blocker - one of his weaknesses coming out of college - before turning on the jets to get to the edge and bring down the running back. Cox even had to dive to make up the space, but he took a good angle and got his hands on the player’s ankles to make the tackle.
In fact, Pro Football Focus had Cox as the Cowboys’ second-highest graded defender in the game. Naturally, the only one ahead of him was Parsons.
Micah Parsons & Jabril Cox were Dallas' highest-graded players last night— PFF College (@PFF_College) August 6, 2021
Both rookies ⭐⭐ pic.twitter.com/FPlMOGwoyy
Cox isn’t quite where Parsons is yet, which is why we’re unlikely to see him play much this year barring any injuries ahead of him on the depth chart. Still, with Leighton Vander Esch’s contract expiring at season’s end and Jaylon Smith’s contract offering a potential out after this year, many expect Parsons and Cox to take over as the starting linebacker duo in the long term. To that end, it was nice to see both of them perform well on Thursday, even if they didn’t share the field together. For Cox specifically, it was important for him to have a good showing after his light training camp workload.
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