It’s been a very long time since the Cowboys could sit here and say they felt really good about their safety group. The days of Darren Woodson, and even Roy Williams for a brief time, are gone and it’s felt like forever since the Cowboys backend was properly secured. 2022 has changed all that as they have seen the emergence of Donovan Wilson, the health and steadiness of Malik Hooker, and some help from the young contributors like Israel Mukuamu and Markquese Bell.
Arguably the biggest piece of the unit is Jayron Kearse. Kearse got injured in week one and has missed the last three weeks. However, as we approach kickoff against the Rams it looks like Kearse is practicing with all indications being that he will be back this week to fortify the safety group.
The presence of Kearse brings a unique hybrid role with the ability to play down as a linebacker, or with the range to run and cover as a matchup neutralizer. This makes Kearse a clear choice for this week’s underrated star.
Week 5 underrated star
If you are looking for the prototype of what Dan Quinn is looking for as far as build, attitude, and skill set in his defensive backfield, look no further than Kearse. He plays with a swagger and a toughness that this defense has embodied as their collective attitude since he got to Dallas. Kearse is widely respected by his teammates and coaches, and that was further established when Quinn and staff gave him the green sticker on his helmet which indicates that he is the quarterback of the defense, making play calls for the unit.
Re-signing Jayron Kearse was key for the #Cowboys this offseason. His ability to impact the run game from multiple alignments, cover TEs, poach crossers & be a reliable tackler were key for Dan Quinn's D. JK's versatility allows DAL to do a lot of different things defensively. pic.twitter.com/a1KUMnuUy6— John Owning (@JohnOwning) May 17, 2022
The depth of the group was tested after week one when Kearse got injured forcing others to step up, but they played well and stood up to the challenge in his absence. Now the group has a chance to take it to another level as Kearse returns and brings the group to full strength. It comes at a great time as Cooper Kupp and Tyler Higbee are next on the schedule fresh off a combined 33 targets on Monday night and will look to be one of the tougher challenges this secondary will have to face all season. Look for Kearse to be tasked with limiting Higbee and trying to frustrate Matt Stafford and the Rams offensive attack.
The Rams haven’t put it all together yet this season, but the talent is still there and it won’t be easy to contain them. It’s certainly a challenge after a three week layoff, but if Kearse is up for the task, his play could help this defense take their play to another level. Doing so would make Kearse the easy choice for this week’s underrated star.