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Dorance Armstrong has been the early unsung hero of Cowboys defense

The former fourth-round pick is off to a stellar start.

Cincinnati Bengals v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

A lot has gone right for the Dallas Cowboys defense seven games into the 2022 season. The Cowboys have currently given up the second-fewest points in football, holding their opponents to just 15 points a game. Dallas also leads the league in sacks, recording five more than the second-place San Francisco 49ers, and is tied for third in the NFL with 12 takeaways.

There are plenty of reasons why the Cowboys have gotten off to such a good start on the defensive side of the ball, but one of the more under-the-radar ones is the performance of Dorance Armstrong.

The former fourth-round pick re-signed with Dallas in the offseason, locking up a two-year, $12M deal. With Randy Gregory out the door, the Cowboys desperately needed Armstrong to step up in his absence and bring some of the same pass-rush spark that Gregory did to Dallas’ defense.

So far, Armstrong’s been everything and more than the Cowboys could have imagined.

Seven games into the season, Armstrong has already notched his career-high in sacks with six on the year. The 25-year-old’s six sacks are currently tied for the fourth-most in football. Armstrong has the same amount of sacks as Khalil Mack, Myles Garrett, Maxx Crosby, and Von Miller on the season. That’s some pretty good company.

Armstrong’s 18 total pressures, via Pro Football Focus, are the third-most on the Cowboys team, behind Micah Parsons and DeMarcus Lawrence.

His early-season production isn’t a new thing. Armstrong ended the 2021 season playing exceptionally well, recording 20 pressures and five sacks in Dallas’ last nine regular season games. The former fourth-round pick has been able to carry over that late-season production into this year very nicely.

Dating back to Week 9 of last season, Armstrong has recorded 31 pressures, 18 QB hits, 11 sacks, and eight TFL over his last 17 games. That’s Pro-Bowl-level production over the course of a 17-game span, so not some small sample size.

While rushing the passer has been his best asset to the defense this season, he isn’t just making an impact one way. In Week 5 against the Rams, the 25-year-old blocked the second punt of his career, helping put the Cowboys on the board first and ultimately being a big reason why they won the game.

His name may not come up as much in the headlines as other members of this star-studded Dallas defense, but Dorance Armstrong has been the early unsung hero of this defensive unit.

The Cowboys have gotten all they could have wanted out of Armstrong over the course of the first seven games of the season. If he can keep this level of production up and carry it into the second half of the year, the Cowboys are going to be tough to beat on the defensive side of the ball.

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