Dallas Cowboys: 5 Role players who have stepped up big this season

Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Reper-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Reper-USA TODAY Sports /
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Things are going nicely for the Dallas Cowboys. Standing 5-1 and in first place in the NFC East, the season has started about as good as anyone could have hoped for. But it wasn’t an easy path. They didn’t just cruse to their current 5-1 record – they had to overcome a handful of injuries and even a significant suspension in order to get where they are.

As such, the Cowboys have needed to lean on role players to play expended roles. They needed to be successful in these roles for the Cowboys to be successful as a team. As anyone who’s been a Cowboys fan for longer than a minute can attest, this “next man up” strategy hasn’t always worked out well for Dallas in the past.

Today we look at five Dallas Cowboys who thrived in their expanded roles on the team.

2021 has been a success so far because of the way role players have succeeded in expanded roles. They have found a way to keep the Dallas Cowboys rolling, even if they are playing a bigger part than what they were initially slated for.

Jayron Kearse


To many, (yours truly included) Jayron Kearse was as afterthought addition this offseason. The 5-year veteran came to Dallas without much fanfare because his resume was fairly pedestrian. With only 12 starts to his name, there was no guarantee he’d make the team, let alone carve out an important role.

But after Donovan Wilson fell to injury the first week of the season, the opportunity arrived for Kearse. An opportunity Kearse undeniably seized. While Kearse may not have been an even replacement to Donovan Wilson, he’s far exceeded expectations and has been a standout on a nearly weekly basis.

The 6-foot-4, 214 lb. safety brings size and physicality to the Dallas secondary. He’s been strong in the box and in coverage. His 12 pass deflections are more than that of Trevon Diggs and Kearse has six pressures on 13 blitzes giving him nearly a 50% success rate. With zero missed tackles (per PFR), Kearse is one of the most reliable players on defense and has carved out a permanent role even with Donovan Wilson’s return.