IRVING, Texas – The education of DeMarcus Lawrence started quickly.
Every day in offseason workouts, Lawrence, the Dallas Cowboys’ second-round pick, had to go up against Pro Bowl left tackle Tyron Smith. There were times Lawrence won, but more times he didn’t. Lawrence and the Cowboys did not seem to mind.
“I feel like it’s helping me,” Lawrence said. “If you’re going against the best, you ain’t got no choice but to pick up your game and become the best. I feel like he’s helping me out a lot, and he’s getting me ready for the season.”
Lawrence’s education was not unlike the education Smith received from DeMarcus Ware, the man Lawrence is replacing. At training camp last summer in Oxnard, California, Ware had his way with Smith – or any offensive linemen in his way – and Smith ended up having his best season. He was not only named to the Pro Bowl, he earned second-team All-Pro honors.
Defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli liked what he saw from Lawrence in the offseason.
I don’t sense that with him, the confidence thing,” Marinelli said. “I think he’s just tough. He’s a tough kid. Oh, he just comes out and if he gets beat, he comes back again harder. Now it’s just about skill development.”
Lawrence’s hands were considered his biggest strength when the Cowboys picked him, but he believes the work with Marinelli and Leon Lett has made him a better player before he has even put on pads in the NFL.
“Just with my hand movements, my outside moves,” Lawrence said. “Instead of going against a tackle head up, I’m just playing half a man and I’m really using my speed to my best interests.”
With Jeremy Mincey limited some in the offseason, Lawrence was able to get more work, especially against Smith.
“I think what you look at anytime you’re dealing in non-pads in the offseason for him is alignment, assignment, key, technique, speed and takeaways,” Marinelli said. “Those are the things you can really emphasize. You won’t go full speed without collisions and that’s what you try to do. You try to get him ready for camp, but he’s made progress. Good progress in the drill work and all those things. Right now we’re just trying to get him ready for pads.”
And more work against Smith.