With action, Cowboys' DeMarcus Lawrence 'backs up' his words

Cowboys defensive end Demarcus Lawrence sacks Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz in their Week 7 game. Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images

FRISCO, Texas -- DeMarcus Lawrence listened intently to the questions being asked to Jaylon Smith as he got dressed two days before the Dallas Cowboys played the Philadelphia Eagles on Oct. 20.

"If they give me some bulls---, I'm giving them some bulls--- right back," Lawrence said.

Lawrence wanted to say something. He knew Eagles coach Doug Pederson said at the start of the week that Philadelphia was going to win and be in first place. Other Cowboys downplayed Pederson's comments, choosing either to ignore them or believe they meant nothing.

Not Lawrence.

"Tell him to come on. We ready," Lawrence said. "Can he play the game? So he might want to shut his ass up and stay on the sideline. He can't play the game for them. The Eagles got to come play and he's supposed to sit on the sideline and do whatever he wants to do. But he can't play the game for them, so we'll see."

It was a gutsy play by a pass-rusher, who did not have a sack in nine games against Philadelphia, but Lawrence was willing to put himself out there.

On the Eagles' seventh play of the game, Lawrence sacked Carson Wentz, forcing a fumble that Antwaun Woods recovered, and the Cowboys scored two plays later for a 14-0 lead on their way to a 37-10 win.

"I told him to shut up, didn't I? All right," Lawrence said of the Eagles coach after the game. "What do you think he's doing now? Don't ask me about that man no more."

Many traits make Lawrence, 27, one of the NFL's best. He has the requisite size, arm length and speed. He has a variety of moves, using his speed and power. Cowboys defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli calls him relentless.

But there's another: He is unafraid.

"I mean it's been my personality all my life," Lawrence said. "Say what you mean and get it out there. Ain't no need to hold it in and keep the words inside of you that the world needs to hear. Just say it loud and say it proud and move on from it."


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The call-out on Pederson wasn't the first time Lawrence spoke his mind. Leading into last season's Week 13 game against the New Orleans Saints, Lawrence was asked about the Saints' offensive line.

"They're going to have to match our intensity," Lawrence said. "S---, for 60 minutes straight, if you hit a m----- f----- in the mouth and then they ain't doing what they're regularly doing, putting up 50 points, they start to get a little distressed. Now, you got them where you want them at."

The Cowboys won that game 13-10.

"You've got to respect a guy that can say what's on his mind regardless of circumstance," Cowboys linebacker Leighton Vander Esch said. "I mean he makes bold statements, but he backs it up, so, yeah."

Lawrence does not spout off because he likes the outside attention. He spouts off at times to get the attention of his teammates, and they'll be on alert as the Cowboys come off their Week 8 bye and prepare to face the New York Giants on Nov. 4 (8:15 p.m. ET, ESPN).

"Not necessarily get on my back, but that it's time to ride," he said. "When it's time to ride, it's time to ride. It's time to go. Ain't no need to hide or duck away from it. It is what it is."

It is not a coincidence that two of the Cowboys' best games came after Lawrence put himself out there. Some coaches might not like for a player to be so colorful or engaging.

"It's who he is," Marinelli said. "You're not going to change somebody. I've been around [Warren] Sapp for 10 years, OK, and so I know. I just know. He is his own man. Comes out and plays."

Cowboys coach Jason Garrett's message to his players regarding the media is to be humble and be boring. While bulletin board material might be a tad overrated, Garrett does not want his players to give opponents any extra motivation. Mostly, the players listen, even Lawrence, but there are times he does not.

The Cowboys of the 1990s were known to be brash and bold. Coach Jimmy Johnson even got into it, guaranteeing a victory in the 1993 NFC Championship Game by saying on a local radio show: "We will win the ballgame. And you can put it in 3-inch headlines. We will win the ballgame."

Garrett would never utter something like that publicly.

"Yeah, I find the best teams are ones that focus on what they're supposed to do and they practice well and they go play well," Garrett said. "A lot of teams have different personalities. That's a good thing. But again you don't want to stifle personalities. You want to bring that out. You want to see and feel players' personalities. ... That's the way most teams are and you never kind of want to put the wraps on anybody and prevent them from being who they are. But the best teams are the ones that prepare the right way and go play the right way."

Teammates and coaches laud Lawrence's work in practice. Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee said the defense feeds off Lawrence's daily intensity.

"And we know that he's not scared of any situation, and I think the whole team is like that," Lee said. "He might be a little more vocal than us, but I think we all feel the same way as he does. But that's what's great about him. He's not afraid to say something and he also backs it up all the time."