The Dallas Cowboys surprised many of us in minicamp when they left Jourdan Lewis off the field in their first-team nickel package. Is it for real or are they sharpening his edge?
All offseason we’ve been penciling Jourdan Lewis into the secondary’s top-3 cornerbacks on the Dallas Cowboys nickel package. Whether Byron Jones was moved to CB or not, it seemed unfathomable for Lewis to be left out.
That’s why many of us were taken back when Dallas rolled with Chidobe Awuzie, Byron Jones, and Anthony Brown as the top-3 CBs in last week’s mini-camp. Are we missing something? Did Lewis do something we’re unaware of that would cause him to fall behind third-year corner, Anthony Brown?
While it’s perfectly reasonable to expect Brown to have a bounce-back season after his disappointing sophomore campaign, the motive behind the move may be more than just boosting Browns confidence.
It could be lighting a fire in Lewis.
Jourdan Lewis came to the Dallas Cowboys with an edge. Off-the-field questions caused him to fall from a fringe first rounder pick to a third round pick in 2017. Armed with some of the best ball-skills in the CB-rich class, Lewis started his Cowboys career with a chip on his shoulder.
Injuries slowed his impact his rookie year, but the talent was apparent to all of us who watched the film. Jourdan Lewis showed legit CB1 potential and figured to be a shoe-in on the starting lineup in 2018 and beyond.
Bringing “the nasty”
With the departure of Orlando Scandrick something was suddenly missing from this Dallas Cowboys secondary. Loaded with nice guys, the Cowboys defensive backfield suddenly lacks “nasty”. For years the abrasive Scandy held down that role. He was the goon. The protector of the bunch. He was the scrappy little guy who fired up his teammates and aggravated opponents
The only guy capable of filling that role now: Jourdan Lewis.
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I’m working hard to decode these moves because on ability alone, Lewis is clearly a top-3 CB on this up-and-coming squad. Ulterior motives must be at play and aggravating Lewis in all the right ways. If this is to nurture his edge heading into training camp, it could be an excellent strategy.
With all of this said, it would be shocking if the Cowboys lined up in Week 1 without Jourdan Lewis among their top-3 CBs. With all due respect to Anthony Brown, his ceiling just isn’t as high as Lewis’ and his recent body of work wasn’t strong enough to warrant using him as roadblock to Lewis’ development.
Even if the Dallas Cowboys like Lewis better on the outside (which could also be a possibility), they need to find a way to get him on the field when they’re in their nickel defense. Byron Jones has shown the ability to cover inside and Chidobe Awuzie’s best skill is blitzing from inside.
Minicamp is a time to experiment and get reps for players who need reps. No one should expect Jourdan Lewis to enter Week 1 as the CB4. He’s far too good for that. With any luck, they’ll sharpen his edge by doing this, and provide an opportunity for the once-promising Anthony Brown to bounce back in his third season.