Identifying Key Players the Cowboys Need to Step Up Following Trevon Diggs’ ACL Injury

Trevon Diggs sends heartfelt message after season

FRISCO, Texas (KTRK) — The Dallas Cowboys will undoubtedly miss Trevon Diggs, who sustained a season-ending ACL tear in his left knee during Thursday’s practice.

No cornerback in the NFL has more interceptions since 2020 than Diggs’ 18. The Cowboys have used the most man coverage in the NFL since Dan Quinn took over as defensive coordinator in 2021, and Diggs has responded with 15 interceptions and 38 passes deflected. According to NFL Next Gen Stats, he has only allowed three receptions on eight targets for 31 yards through two games this season.

However, this is a club that lost quarterback Dak Prescott in the season opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last year and went on to win four of five games with Cooper Rush as the starter. And this is a squad that won 10 games while missing Pro Bowl left tackle Tyron Smith for the opening 13 games of the season due to a ruptured hamstring.

Trevon Diggs sends heartfelt message after season
Trevon Diggs sends heartfelt message after season

The Cowboys now rely on Stephon Gilmore, DaRon Bland, Jourdan Lewis, and the rest of their cornerbacks to keep the defense suffocating opposing offenses by allowing only 10 points while registering 10 sacks and forcing seven turnovers.

The Cowboys’ March acquisition of Gilmore, who turned 33 on Tuesday, from the Indianapolis Colts appears to have been foreseen. He got an interception against the New York Giants in the season opener and has been praised by teammates since his arrival.

“He’s probably the smartest DB, once again, that I’ve ever lined up against,” wide receiver CeeDee Lamb recently stated. “I get one yard down the field off a release, and he’s mentally eliminating routes.” You defeated him, you got it, but I’m not sure you can do it again. If you do it, congratulations. That man is fantastic. I’m glad he’s on our side.”

Bland is the most likely replacement for Diggs opposite Gilmore, although he has only made two career starts on the outside and has thrived as a slot corner. He led the Cowboys in interceptions last season with five and returned one for a score against the Giants in the season opener, owing in large part to Diggs’ hit on Saquon Barkley.

According to Next Gen Stats, Bland’s 66.5 passer rating as the closest defender ranks eighth among defensive backs targeted at least 60 times since the start of the season. Riq Woolen (50.5), James Bradberry (60.0), Jonathan Jones (64.1), and Cameron Sutton (65.1) have all performed better.

“It’s never been too big for him,” Quinn remarked following the Giants’ victory. “I remember the first game he started after Jourdan went down, and it wasn’t like, ‘Oh, s—, here we go.'” He was ready to play and performed well in the game. He’s always been someone who simply keeps getting better and better as time passes. I like how he can play outside and indoors. That really adds to his versatility for us.”

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Lewis was having his greatest season until suffering a Lisfranc injury on his right foot in October of last year. Last week, he made his NFL debut against the Jets, playing 10 snaps and forcing a third-down incompletion on a Zach Wilson pass to Randall Cobb.

“I’m fully healthy now,” Lewis stated prior to Diggs’ injury being publicized. “So just going out there and showing that ability and that my foot is stable enough to play a full game.”

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