Jourdan Lewis appears to finally have defined role in Cowboys defense

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The Dallas Cowboys have added very good, young talent to the cornerback position over the last two seasons. Trevon Diggs, even with his ups and downs as a rookie in 2020, proved he was worthy of a second-round pick by leading the team in interceptions (3) and passes defended (14). Kelvin Joseph, the Cowboy’s second-round selection in the 2021 NFL draft, is expected to contribute early as well.

The success of the Cowboys cornerback group this season will depend a lot on the play of one of its veterans, though. Jourdan Lewis, who’s entering his fifth year with the team, spoke during the first week of OTAs and revealed his role would be much bigger under Dan Quinn’s defensive scheme.

“I’m going to be in the box,” Lewis said, via Jon Machota of The Athletic. “I’m going to be able to make plays around the field and move around the field. It’s going to be cool.”

After a solid rookie campaign in 2017 in which he amassed 54 tackles, an interception, and 10 passes defended in seven starts, Lewis struggled to find his place on the Cowboys roster for a while. Former defensive coordinator Kris Richard preferred tall corners with more length, and at 5-foot-10, Lewis wasn’t a huge part of his strategy when he was hired in 2018. The former Michigan Wolverine only logged 187 snaps and a pedestrian 12 tackles during that season.

Lewis caught a break just a year later. When Anthony Brown went down with a torn biceps, Lewis took full advantage. He started four of the final six games and by the season’s end, he had amassed 51 tackles, two interceptions, six pass breakups, four sacks, a fumble recovery, and a defensive touchdown.

The 2020 season was a contract year for Lewis. The Cowboys defense was a disaster, ranking No. 31 against the run and allowing a franchise-record 473 points. Lewis, however, reached several milestones. He accumulated a career-high in total tackles (59), tackles for loss (7), defensive snaps (817), and starts (13).

Once free agency kicked off in March the question became was Lewis’ performance good enough to garner a second contract with the Cowboys. It didn’t take long to find out as he was re-signed on the first day of the frenzy to a three-year, $16.5 million dollar deal with $8 million in guarantees.

Lewis also spoke for the first time since he was brought back about how things came together on his deal.

“After that year I just wasn’t too sure about the performance,” Lewis said. “And we didn’t have our (defensive coordinator) come back, so it was up in the air. They hit me up and said, ‘We’d love to have you back. We’ve got some things for you to do.’ And I was like, ‘I’m for it.’”

Lewis has his financial security for the time being and a definitive role heading into the 2021 season. Now, it’s just about him continuing his knack for making plays when he’s been asked to.

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