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Neville Gallimore working to be the next defensive tackle to make jump under Dan Quinn

A year three improvement from Gallimore would be a great outcome for the Cowboys defense.

Dallas Cowboys Training Camp Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

The Dallas Cowboys have begun OTAs, which is usually a time of the year when all of the reports surrounding any team are woefully optimistic. The Cowboys have had their share of these already when it comes to CeeDee Lamb and Dak Prescott now having adjacent lockers, but also some early adversity to deal with as Tyron Smith did not participate and James Washington is in a walking boot.

OTA reports aren’t meant to make long-term predictions on how the Cowboys roster will be built, but rather a small piece to this puzzle that can be revisited in the heat of training camp. There is one player that turned heads on day one just for his physical traits though, and with the benefit of working under defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, he has a great chance to remain a standout in workouts and gamedays.

Defensive tackle Neville Gallimore added 16 pounds of muscle mass this offseason, looking to play a full regular season for the first time since being drafted in 2020. The third-round pick has a chance to earn plenty of snaps as an every down defensive tackle in Quinn’s scheme, which favors strong DTs with quick pass-rush ability.

Gallimore is just one cog in Quinn’s defensive line machine, which is taking on a similar look to the groups he coached in Seattle and Atlanta. Defensive tackle has always been a strong point on Quinn’s teams. Hybrid end/tackle Michael Bennett led the Seahawks in sacks in both 2013 and 2014, Quinn’s two years as coordinator. When Quinn got his hands on Vic Beasley with the Falcons, he went from leading the team in 2015 with four sacks to a league high 15.5 in 2016.

Beasley may be a far better edge speed rusher compared to Gallimore, but the Cowboys have defenders in this mold with last year’s sack leader Micah Parsons and Dorance Armstrong. Parsons leading the Cowboys in sacks marked the second straight season a linebacker has lead Quinn’s defense in sacks, with Deion Jones notching a career-high 4.5 in 2020.

Quinn’s other sack leaders as head coach with the Falcons were Adrian Clayborn and Takk McKinley, long-armed bull rushers that can line up in multiple stances.

NFL: JAN 16 NFC Wild Card - 49ers at Cowboys Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Cowboys need at defensive tackle is for a run stuffer that can also push the pocket, something a bulkier Neville Gallimore can do. Dallas recently lost veteran free agent Brent Urban to the Baltimore Ravens. This leaves Carlos Watkins, Quinton Bohanna, and rookie John Ridgeway as space-eating options on the interior.

The Cowboys also saw flashes from rookie Osa Odighizuwa in his first season with Quinn, though the UCLA product missed practice on Wednesday. Another promising rookie from last year filled in for him as Chauncey Golston continues to get snaps across the defensive line.

It’s versatile and developing players like Odighizuwa and Golston that make up any competition for Gallimore to hold down a starting spot on this defensive line. While some fans may feel Gallimore is close to a finished product, with a ceiling lower than younger players on the roster, the Cowboys should expect to see more out of Gallimore this season. A top priority on defense is keeping Parsons clear to do what he does best, create matchup nightmares for opposing offenses. Rushing Parsons against guards and centers that also have to deal with Gallimore and a strong interior rush is an ideal way for Quinn to do this.

Stringing together positive practice reports is how players make noise before the preseason begins, and Neville Gallimore feels like a name we’ll be seeing a lot more of leading up to these exhibitions. He’ll have to wait to take first team reps against Cowboys first-round pick Tyler Smith, who began with the second team on Wednesday while fifth-round pick Matt Waletzko filled in for Tyron Smith.