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Cowboys news: Osa Odighizuwa, Markquese Bell rising stars on Dallas defense

The latest Cowboys news heading into their bye week is here

Dallas Cowboys v Los Angeles Chargers Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

‘Extremely Dangerous!’ Osa Odighizuwa Making ‘The Leap’ to Dallas Cowboys Stardom? - Anthony Licciardi, Fan Nation

Osa Odighizuwa is showing he’s better than his third-round draft status.

Monday’s performance may have earned the most recognition of Odighizuwa’s season, but it wasn’t a flash in the pan. He’s been a game-wrecker up the middle for Dallas all season. He ranks 46th in pass rush snaps, but 11th in hurries (and 14th in total pressures). His 18.5% pass rush win rate makes him the meat in a Javon Hargrave-Quinnen Williams sandwich.

If that wasn’t enough, PFF has graded him as the fifth-best run defender at the position, too.

Odighizuwa is more than just a PFF darling. He’s been a cog to the Cowboys’ pass rush synergy, collapsing pockets and pushing opposing quarterbacks into the paths of Parsons and Lawrence, who are each enjoying spectacular seasons in their own right.

Markquese Bell fast becoming a star on the Cowboys defense - Reid Hanson, Cowboys Wire

Bell has gone from an undrafted rookie to a key player on the Cowboys defense.

In the critical Week 6 matchup against the Chargers, Bell had his coming out party, logging seven tackles, a pass deflection, and of course that critical goal line stop that might have saved the game and potentially the Cowboys’ season.

When the Cowboys converted him to LB, there was a concern that a former defensive back would struggle with the dirty work needed to hold up against the run. Six weeks in, Bell has put those concerns to bed. When Bell is on the field, opposing offenses average 0.14 net yards over average less than when he’s off the field.

Bell is the eighth-highest graded LB by Pro Football Focus, who give him strong marks in coverage, run defense and pass rush. He’s the youngest player in their top-10, and based on his diverse skill set and versatility across the formation, a valuable tool going forward.

3-Dimension: Evaluating this defense after 6 games - Patrik Walker,

The unit has been hit or miss over the last month.

It’s been a roller coaster ride for the Dallas Cowboys over these past four weeks, one that’s taken them to the highest of highs before dragging them through the lowest of lows, only to return them to middle ground.

That said, and despite the loss of impact players like Trevon Diggs and Leighton Vander Esch to injury, they’ve mounted up to remain one of the best defenses in the NFL and [still] the calling card for the Cowboys in 2023.

As the team enters its bye week with a promising 4-2 record, it’s time to take a look at some of the items that standout the most from the first six weeks of football.

MVP - Micah Parsons — This actually wasn’t as easy as you might think. Yes, obviously Parsons is an absolute menace who should be in the conversation for Defensive Player of the Year, but names like Osa Odighizuwa and DeMarcus Lawrence popped up in my head as well. That said, the answer remains Parsons, especially after seeing him pressure Justin Herbert eight times and then overcoming an offsides penalty on the final drive to deliver a sack on the very next play that ultimately helped lead the Cowboys to a 4-2 record.

Evolving Mike McCarthy discusses Cowboys coaching decisions, Dak Prescott scrutiny - David Moore, Dallas Morning News

McCarthy vouches for Prescott despite ongoing criticism.

McCarthy touched on other topics, from overcoming adversity to the impact of social media in the locker room, in a wide-ranging interview. The man who has worked with Joe Montana, Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers said Prescott has had to deal with more comment and criticism than any of them. He raved about his quarterback’s emotional discipline and strength.

“Dak Prescott is the most scrutinized player I’ve personally ever experienced working with,’’ McCarthy said. “I think that’s a part of his greatness as a young man, what he’s able to do day in and day out as consistently as he does it.

“It’s a joy to work with Dak.’’

Has the Dallas Cowboys’ Rookie Class Impressed Early Into the Season? - Jess Nevarez, Pro Football Network

A look at the rookies in Dallas in the first six weeks.

Mazi Smith has been a draft-and-develop player for the Cowboys this season. He has taken 97 snaps so far, or around 25% of the defense’s total snap count.

Smith is the team’s 2023 first-round draft pick, something that defensive line coach Aden Durde says is something we all take for granted sometimes because of the pressure that comes with it.

He said coming into the NFL has a lot of different aspects from college, such as the amount of playing time or how plays are communicated. Those things change in the NFL.

“I think as we’re going through this, Mazi’s growth and understanding of how to play the game at that level is growing. You can see week in, week out, he’s making marginal gains, and that’s what it’s about,” said Durde.

3 trade deadline targets to ensure Dallas Cowboys are NFC Favorites - Randy Gurzi, The Landry Hat

Dallas isn't usually active at the trade deadline, but here are some options.

A second-round pick out of Utah in 2020, Jaylon Johnson is off to his best start with the Chicago Bears in 2023. Never known as a ball hawk, Johnson has still proven his worth as a tight cover corner. And on Chicago, he’s been one of the only bright spots this season.

With the Bears in a bit of a free fall (again), they could be looking to make some moves — and Johnson is a prime player for them to put on the market.

Not only would there be plenty of interested teams but it would be wise of them to try and get something of value now rather than watch him leave in the offseason as a free agent.

For the Cowboys, he would likely be a rental since they’re not going to be forking out a lot of cash for another starter opposite Trevon Diggs. But that’s exactly what they need right now with Diggs out for the season due to a torn ACL.

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