COMMENTARY | Who in the world is Ben Bass?
Your first reaction would've probably been the actor who played in that hit TV series "Bury the Lead." That seems forever ago, doesn't it?
But, no. This version of Ben Bass is a bit different. This one is 6 feet 5 inches, almost 290 pounds, and he's a defensive lineman on the Dallas Cowboys' training camp squad that's been making some noise in the first week and a half in Oxnard, Calif.
Bass was an undrafted free agent by the Cowboys in 2012, and he saw just a shade more of playing time than you or me. He was active for only two games this past season as a reserve defensive lineman, and he has only one tackle in his career.
So if you've been sitting at home wondering if there's anybody you could point to having almost the same career numbers in the NFL as you, he'd be one of the first choices.
Yet here's something that Bass is getting that any of us will never have: first-team defensive reps during practice.
If you're a defensive lineman on the Cowboys, there are roster spots to be had. Between the nagging injuries of Anthony Spencer and Jay Ratliff, to the saddened torn Achilles of Tyrone Crawford, there are opportunities for linemen to make some noise.
Bass is one of those guys that's taking every advantage possible.
Now, before the hype starts to get overblown, there's not a lot you need to know about Bass. Really. There's hardly anything on this guy.
He redshirted his freshman year at Texas A&M, had to sit out a year because he was academically ineligible to play, and started only three times during his college career. His career numbers as an Aggie? Thirty-three tackles, and three sacks.
So, why is everybody so excited about how quickly this 23-year-old bench player is becoming one of the notable names from Cowboys camp?
The one type of defensive lineman you can't have enough of are ones who are balanced in defending the run and pass. He's gotten a couple of sacks during first-team reps against Tony Romo, so far. The versatility in Bass' game has caught the eye of defensive line coach Rod Maranelli. And if you get the attention of Maranelli as a lineman, you're on the right track.
"For now, he gives you a big 290-pound left end you can use in the run game," Maranelli told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "You've got to be careful with that approach and not give him too many things to do. You want to make him good first and then adjust." (Read more here.)
Not only is Maranelli looking, but even Jason Hatcher feels that Bass will be the reason that he won't be on the Cowboys next year. Hatcher isn't a scrub, either, and he'll be looking to improve in the 4-3 scheme, as well this year.
The only thing holding Bass back right now is his ankles. He sprained his ankle on July 27, but came back the next day to practice. But he tweaked that same ankle again on Thursday and couldn't finish the rest of practice. Those first-team reps going against Tyron Smith and Doug Free (the bashing on Free begins, now) are physical as they come. Not to mention if he's looking for a spot on the inside as a defensive tackle, he's going to collect his bumps.
But between Terrence Williams and Bass, this defensive lineman project is the story of training camp. He'll more than likely see a lot of reps in the Hall of Fame Game on Sunday against the Miami Dolphins. So for those who have yet to see him play, be prepared for a heaping plate of Bass on Sunday.
Anyone else in the mood for some fish?
Danny Webster is a featured columnist for the Dallas Cowboys. You can contact him by going on Twitter and following @DannyWebster21.
- Sports & Recreation
- American Football
- Dallas Cowboys
- Ben Bass
- defensive lineman