Replacing DeMarcus Lawrence


On July 29th, the Dallas Cowboys lost 2nd-round draft pick and [likely] starting Defensive End Demarcus Lawrence for 8-10 weeks after he suffered a broken foot during training camp practices, sidelining him at least a month into the regular season.  Lawrence’s injury is an especially difficult one to deal with, as the team is very thin at his position.  So, who is most likely to start in the now wide-open DE spot, and can he be productive?

Before looking at Lawrence’s potential replacements, we should establish that this latest injury almost definitely makes George Selvie a starter.  While most assumed this would be the case anyway, there had been some questions after Lawrence was drafted and Anthony Spencer was re-signed.  Speaking of Anthony Spencer: can he be the guy?

Many fans might have liked to see Anthony Spencer start over Lawrence anyway, or at the very least split time with him.  However, Spencer is currently on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list, and while there is a chance he is ready by the season’s opener, there is also the possibility he will still be PUP.  Moreover, even if Spencer is back, it is highly unlikely he will be able to shoulder the typical load of a starter.  Rod Marinelli is likely to once again employ a heavy rotation on the D-Line, but it’s safe to say that Spencer would require more frequent substitutions than the other players, at least when he first returns.

In addition to Lawrence, Sylvie, and Spencer, the Dallas Cowboys have 8 Defensive Ends currently on the roster.  They include Ben Bass, Tyrone Crawford, Ben Gardner (R, Stanford), Jeremy Mincey, Adewale Ojomo, Caesar Rayford, and Martez Wilson.  The names which should stick 0ut as having the most potential are Ben Bass and Tyrone Crawford, as each guy is young and has flashed supreme potential in the recent past, though was curtailed by injury.  However, both of those guys have just as good a chance at playing Defensive Tackle as they do Defensive End (at least they did before the Lawrence injury).  In the same respect, we should also consider SAM Linebacker Kyle Wilber, who Jason Garret recently said is likely to spend some time with his hand on the ground.

So for argument’s sake, let’s assume we have to pick between Ben Gardner, Jeremy Mincey, Caesar Rayford, Martez Wilson, and the recently signed Adewale Ojomo and Kenneth Boatright.  Given the need to carry Lawrence and Spencer on the active roster (unless they’re put on the PUP list at the season’s commencement, keeping them out until Week 6), and the likelihood that the team employs more than a couple Defensive Tackles, it is likely that only 2-3 of the aforementioned players are kept, if that many.

It’s still too early to say who among the five are most likely to be kept, but we can observe that the rookie, Gardner, has a lot of people excited with his pure physicality, and that Jeremy Mincey’s 7 years of experience could prove valuable to an otherwise inexperienced unit.  Still, though, the other guys are no joke and still have plenty of time to prove themselves.  Look out for Caesar Rayford who came over mid-season from the Colts last year and had great success as a pass rusher in the CFL.

In reality, Lawrence’s spot will be filled a platoon of players.  Figuring out the starter isn’t as important in Marinelli’s scheme as it would be in somebody else’s.  However, understanding who the best guy is at the position is still immensely important.  The team may be able to experiment with who begins the game and plays throughout, but the Coaches better know their best guy for the 4th quarter.