New linebackers are vital to Dallas defense
BY SCHUYLER DIXON Associated Press
Thursday, November 29, 2012
11/29/12 at 5:13 AM
IRVING, Texas - Ernie Sims and Brady Poppinga joined Dallas from the NFL scrap heap. They could end up playing important parts in trying to salvage a season.
Both times the Cowboys lost the play-calling linebacker in the middle of their defense to a season-ending injury, they turned to a veteran to fill the roster spot.
First it was Sims after Sean Lee badly damaged a toe Oct. 21 against Carolina. This week it was Poppinga after Bruce Carter dislocated his left elbow in the Thanksgiving loss to Washington.
The Sims move wasn't quite so urgent because the season was relatively young and the Cowboys still had Carter and Dan Connor, a free agent pickup in the offseason and former teammate of Lee's at Penn State.
Poppinga comes aboard with Sims back in the starting lineup a second time and Dallas trying to hang on to playoff hopes that took a big hit with the 38-31 loss to the Redskins. Poppinga is the only backup listed at the two inside linebacker spots as Dallas (5-6) gets ready to play Philadelphia on Sunday.
"We've got a scouting department ... that brings in guys that they feel like can fit in and play and step in right now. And this is a 'right now' type situation," said defensive end Marcus Spears. "As far as thinking about all the other stuff as far as they're off the streets or they've been playing somewhere else, that's water under the bridge because they're here and we have to play with them."
Clinging to hope is made easier by Poppinga. He was among a gaggle of Green Bay defenders who went on injured reserve in 2010, and the Packers won the Super Bowl anyway.
Cowboys coach Jason Garrett won't know until later in the week how much Poppinga can help against the Eagles (3-8). But he already knows the energy level is a little higher on defense.
"He's very passionate about the game," Garrett said. "He's fun to be around the couple of days we've been around him. I'm excited to see him practice and see how well he can pick things up and get himself acclimated to what we're doing."
Original Print Headline: New linebackers are vital to Dallas
Cowboys up next
Vs. Philadelphia 7:20 p.m. Sunday
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