Cowboys, Giants differ along defensive line

IRVING, Texas – One of the biggest contrasts between the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants is how they construct their defensive lines.

Osi Umenyiora and Chris Canty might be gone, but in their place the Giants added Cullen Jenkins and drafted Johnathan Hankins and Damontre Moore in the second and third rounds, respectively, in April. They also brought in free agents Shaun Rogers and Mike Patterson.

The Cowboys did not draft any defensive linemen and, when the teams meet Sunday, will have Jay Ratliff and Tyrone Crawford, expected to be key contributors at the outset of training camp, reduced by injury to spectator status, and another either watching or limited in Anthony Spencer. Two of Dallas' defensive-line pickups, George Selvie and Landon Cohen, came after training camp began. Two more came in trades within the past week in Edgar Jones and Caesar Rayford.

“They’ve always made a huge emphasis on signing and drafting defensive linemen and that’s been going on probably since the 1950s,” Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett said of the Giants. “And they’re good at it. And they challenge you every time you break the huddle because of how big, strong and powerful those guys are. There are some new faces there, but the same mentality.”

In the past 10 drafts, the Giants have selected eight defensive linemen in the top three rounds, including Jason Pierre-Paul (2010), Mathias Kiwanuka (2006), Justin Tuck (2005) and Linval Joseph (2010). Using outside linebackers because of their time in the 3-4 scheme, the Cowboys drafted six outside linebackers/defensive linemen in the top three rounds from 2004-13, but only one since 2006 (Crawford, a third-rounder in 2012).

In a passing league, affecting the quarterback is vital. Having a deep defensive line is a must.

“It’s very critical during a game to be able to do that, be able to rotate enough people through so that you’re fresh, that you have a chance to give guys a chance to catch their breath,” Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. “You might have a pitch count in mind for some guys that you have to keep track of, but that’s very important. We’ve been doing that in one way, shape or form for quite a while.”