Dallas Cowboys Contributor
On Behalf of SOFER’D
Today we turn our attention to the five key players in the Dallas Cowboys-New England Patriots matchup this Sunday afternoon. These five players should have the biggest impact on who walks away with a victory on Sunday.
DE Greg Hardy, Dallas. Hardy returns from his four-game suspension to a defensive line that hasn’t generated much of a pass rush so far this season. Part of that was due to his absence, but some of it was also due to injuries to Randy Gregory and Jeremy Mincey. It doesn’t look like Gregory will be back from his high ankle sprain this week, so Hardy will settle into either a starter role at right defensive end or Mincey’s immediate backup (Mincey acknowledged that he has no problem being a backup). Either way he’ll log plenty of snaps because the Cowboys need him to play. The expectation is that he’ll be in cardiovascular shape, but not quite football shape. There is no question he’ll give the Cowboys some juice off the edge, and they need it. The real question is how much of an impact he can make against a Patriots team with one of the best quarterbacks of all time in Tom Brady, who is able to diagnose just about any pass rush package and get rid of the ball before it becomes a problem? Hardy likely won’t work exclusively on the edge either, as evidenced by his work on the inside during the preseason. His return allows defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli to use his four-end package more often. The Cowboys signed him to make an impact and they’re hoping it’s an immediate impact.