Top Five Cowboys Training Camp Battles to Watch

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October 20, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Dallas Cowboys defensive end

Kyle Wilber

(51) goes around Philadelphia Eagles tackle

Jason Peters

(71) during second half action at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Pittenger-USA TODAY Sports

Dallas Cowboys Starting SAM LB

The Competitors: Kyle Wilber, Anthony Hitchens, Andrew Gachkar, Jasper Brinkley, etc…

Early Favorite: Kyle Wilber

This has been a hot topic of conversation since the draft, but the truth is, the SAM LB is only on the field a fraction of the time. The 3rd CB plays considerably more snaps than the SAM so the issue has become a little overblown.

Rolando McClain will be suspended the first four games of the season, opening a roster spot for an extra LB. The Cowboys go through LBs like Kleenex in cold season, so expect them to go deep at LB this season.

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Jasper Brinkley, a career MIKE, has always struggled with coverage and is usally sidelined on passing downs. Expect the Cowboys to start the season in this way – until of course Rolando McClain comes back. As a result, the Cowboys likely need to find a SAM for running downs, and a coverage LB to pair with Sean Lee on passing downs in the nickel defense.

Kyle Wilber has been fairly strong at SAM in the past and is my early favorite to reclaim the spot this season. Anthony Hitchens projects better as a MIKE or WILL so I expect him to be the primary backup at both spots when the season begins.

The coverage LB that will pair with Lee in the nickel defense could come down to Anthony Hitchens and rookie Damien Wilson. Wilson was regarded by many as a strong coverage linebacker at Minnesota. He’s aware of zone and man responsibilities and has a natural comfort level backing off the line of scrimmage (a rare quality for a LB).

Keep in mind, the 3rd best LB probably won’t be the one who wins the SAM spot.

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