Justin Hamilton hoping late-season surge, new regime leads to Cowboys’ roster spot

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The Dallas Cowboys have made numerous changes along the defensive line over the years. Any objective observer knows the performance up the middle has been less than ideal and with a third defensive coordinator in three seasons in place, it would be more noteworthy if personnel changes weren’t rampant. Still, while his contemporaries and players ahead of him on the depth chart have changed, journeyman defensive tackle Justin Hamilton, No. 99, finds himself yet again in a position to fight for a roster spot come training camp.

Acquired in late 2019 as an injury replacement for the now-retired Tyrone Crawford, Hamilton was quickly scratched from the plans. He did return in the offseason under a future reserves contract and has stuck ever since.

The Cowboys have spent high draft picks on players such as Neville Gallimore, Trysten Hill and now Osa Odighizuwa. While those players are capable of playing 1-tech where Hamilton occupies space, they are more under tackles. Meanwhile the club drafted behemoth Quinton Bohanna in the sixth round as a true 0-tech. The competition for snaps for Hamilton mostly comes from this year’s free agent crop of Brent Urban and Carlos Watkins. Oregon UDFA Austin Faoliu also could create some action.

Listicle Entry 2: Stats (NFL if veteran, Collegiate if 1st or 2nd year)

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Listicle Entry 4: Profile: 150-200 words (longer shot), 250-300 words (sure shot), 400-500 words (well known player)

Background Details

Position: Defensive Tackle (1-tech) Age: 28 Height: 6-foot-2 Weight: 315 pounds Hometown: Natchez, MS College: Louisiana-Lafayette

Pro Stats

2020 Stats

Defensive Snaps: 236 Tackles: 10 Sacks: 0 Interceptions: 0 Forced Fumbles: 0

Career Stats

Tackles: 13 Sacks: 0.5 Interceptions: 0 Forced Fumbles: 0

(AP Photo/Brandon Wade)

(AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)

Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Player Profile

Hamilton will face an uphill battle to make the roster, mostly due to the unfamiliarity the new regime has with him. Dan Quinn has brought in several players he envisions as fits for the style of play he is looking for, and Hamilton is a depth guy from the old regime. This doesn't make his task impossible, just more difficult. Hamilton's path into the rotation starts with his size and a potential ability to fill the big-body role that Bohanna was also drafted to fulfill. Watkins, the only other player well clear of 300 pounds, is seen as a similar type of journeyman coming from the Texans. That's where the training camp battle will likely exist for Hamilton. Hamilton earned a 45.9 overall defensive grade from Pro Football Focus in 2020, his first extensive action since 2018 with Kansas City. His most productive game of last season was late, against San Francisco, when he logged 44 snaps, a QB hit, a QB hurry and two assists.

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