Justin Durant Injured
Justin Durant, the Dallas Cowboys' starting weak side linebacker versus the San Francisco 49ers hurt his groin late in the game and could be out 3 to 4 weeks. Justin Durant, an 8th year pro from Hampton, tied with Rolando McClain as the team's leader in tackles for the Cowboys versus the 49ers with 8 total stops a piece.
Check out my article, Linebacker Position Biggest Question for Cowboys.
Justin Durant has only played all 16 games in a season once in 2012 with the Detroit Lions and he enjoyed the best year of his career with 103 total tackles. Justin Durant, 6'1 230 pounds is underweight by at least 13 pounds is at his best in space where he can use his 4.51 40 speed. He also excels in pass coverage and being able to run plays down from behind. Durant struggles when teams run right at him and he has to take on blockers.
However, Durant's speed is ideal for the 4-3 cover 2 defensive scheme like Dallas uses.
First Option: Anthony Hitchens
The first option the Cowboys will go to is to plug in rookie Anthony Hitchens at the weak side linebacker spot. Hitchens, from Iowa, was drafted by the Cowboys to backup Sean Lee at the middle linebacker spot and to help on special teams. While with the Cowboys Hitchens has been working at the middle spot as well as the weak side spot.
At 6-0, 240 pounds, Hitchens has the more ideal size than Durant and will be able to take on blockers better, but he does not have the speed that Durant does. Hitchens has been clocked at 4.74 in the 40 yard dash, which is pretty close to ideal speed. I would rather see him run in the 4.5 range.
Hitchens only played linebacker the last drive of the game as San Francisco ran the clock out and the game ended. He showed that he can take on blockers better than Durant and hold his ground better. Hitchens was credited with 1 assisted tackle.
Check out his some of his college highlights here.
Second Option: Bruce Carter at Weak Side Linebacker; Kyle Wilber at Strong Linebacker
Bruce Carter started at the strong side linebacker spot versus the San Francisco 49ers and was credited with 6 tackles. He has the prototype size at 6'2, 246 pounds to take on blockers at the point of attack and has the prototype speed, being clocked at 4.57 in the 40 yard dash, so he has the speed to chase down plays from behind.
Carter played the weak linebacker spot last season and finished the year with 96 tackles. So, he knows what he is doing there and should feel comfortable there.
Kyle Wilber is entering his 3rd season with the Cowboys and is a tweener between defensive end and linebacker. Last season he played defensive end almost exclusively. He definitely has the size at 6'4 250 pounds to take on tight ends, but he only runs the 40 yard dash in 4.86 seconds.