Justin Durant: LB corps can be among best

OXNARD, Calif. – All the hype about Sean Lee and Bruce Carter is justified, as far as the Cowboys’ other starting linebacker is concerned.

“Man, Bruce is special with how athletic, how strong he is, how fast and everything. It’s crazy,” Justin Durant said. “And Sean is probably the best at playmaking recognition that I’ve seen. He can diagnose. He knows more than the coaches, man. It’s just crazy.”

What does Durant, who signed a two-year, $2.4 million deal in free agency to start at the Sam linebacker for the Cowboys, bring to the party?

“I’ve been in it for six years and I’m just a little older guy,” Durant said. “I’ve seen a lot. I’ve played in some big games and stuff like that. I think I just bring a sense of calm to it to try to make it mesh more as a unit. That’s the thing that I think I can bring.

"A lot of people may not know me off my name, so I have to go out and show I deserve to be here."

Durant, 27, has made 68 starts in six seasons for Jacksonville and Detroit, plus three more in the playoffs. He ranked second on the Lions with 103 tackles (seven for losses) last season, when ProFootballFocus.com graded him 18th overall among 4-3 outside linebackers, including eighth against the run.

If Lee and Carter can stay healthy -– a big if, given their injury histories -– Durant will be a two-down player who comes off the field when the Cowboys go to their substitution packages. Durant, a speedy veteran who was especially active in Friday’s practice, firmly believes the Cowboys can have one of the league’s elite linebacker corps.

“It can be one of the best, I think,” Durant said. “The ability that I see in those guys, man, they’re two of the best that I’ve played with. As long as we keep working, keep working, keep working, keep fighting, keep trying to get better as a whole, we’re going to be all right. I really think it can be one of the best.”