Gallimore, a former 2020 third-round pick, suffered a gruesome elbow injury in last year’s preseason that cost him all but five games and four starts in 2021, and his absence was badly felt before his mid-December return – — the pride of Welland, Ontario, who immediately reminds everyone what they can do on the football field, already throwing shadows on what else in the Cowboys’ regular season opener against Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on September 11 at AT&T Stadium could come .
The 25-year-old is now 100% healthy and hungry to lead in defensive tackle this season. The task of not only improving themselves, but also setting an example for newcomers like fifth-round rookie John Ridgeway and second-year talents like Osa Odighizuwa, Quinton Bohanna and Chauncey Golston, including former second-round pick Trysten Hill (who is entering a crucial season), it feels more and more like the inside of the defensive line is going like Gallimore – both in production and as a field general.
When asked after the last unpadded workout at Cowboys camp if he was ready to potentially deliver the breakout season he eluded a year ago, Gallimore smiled and was unequivocal in his answer.
“Yes sir, absolutely. Believe me,” he said. “The time is now. We will not gamble with it. We are in the process of achieving it.”
“Ready to set the world on fire and now is the time.”
If the Cowboys can consistently stop the run, the Edge Rushers can chip away at opposing quarterbacks in terms of yards gained. For comparison, the club has improved its run defense over the past year and ranked in the top 10 for rushing touchdowns allowed (13), a tally just four more than the league-best New England Patriots in that category.
That said, their bend-but-don’t-break mentality resulted in enough bending to make a yoga teacher blush — they ended up in midfield at 16th overall in rushing yards allowed (1,918) and 25th overall in Yards per allowable carry on the ground (4.5 per handover).
It just doesn’t work, and especially when the Cowboys are hoping to keep the Heat off a yet-to-be-determined offensive line and a young receiving corps also trying to find their way without the help of four-time Pro Bowl wideout Amari Cooper or, at least early in the Season, a seasoned game changer in Michael Gallup.
But as much as Gallimore wants and needs to take the lead on the inside, his supporting cast must quickly develop into the same game-changing force if they are to take pressure (no pun intended) from Lawrence and the pass-rushers on the outside. Observing the first week of training, it’s impressive how Ridgeway – essentially a road grader – was able to move any tall human placed in front of him with ease, while both Odighizuwa and Bohanna both look slightly faster than them it was in 2021, and without sacrificing physical size or strength.
The latter also applies to Gallimore, who more than once unleashed a successful spin move as a defensive end on a three-man front, a nod to how versatile he could be and an early reminder of defensive coordinator Dan Quinn expected of his linemen : the ability to move between multiple positions; be it 0-tech/1-tech (nose tackle), 3-tech, 5-tech or further off center.
The bottom line is that they all have to expect both the expected (their starting position) and the unexpected (adjustments in the game) and do well in both circumstances if they want to be part of a defense that saw Quinn walk away from the worst in his freshman year at Dallas ranked first in many categories.
Ridgeway is not dissatisfied with this.
“I don’t care. Whatever front they call, get more comfortable,” the rookie said during the minicamp, noting that he was also asked to relocate during his college days in Arkansas. “… It depends on which front we were in. If we were three or four down. If we were four down I could play 3 technique, nose [or] The shade. When we were in three depths, I was a 2-tech.”
So for Ridgeway, his first offseason with the Cowboys is all about honing technique and adapting to what he believes really is the biggest difference on a professional level.
“[It’s] the speed because the NFL is go, go, go, go,” he added. “In college you can play a few games and catch your breath. But you compete against All-Pro every day. So you can’t breathe out at all.”
When it comes to what the Cowboys need from their defensive insides in 2022 to finally end the long-running Super Bowl drought that has led to starvation across fandom, no truer words were said as they are absolutely not breathing can, at all.
It starts with, you guessed it: making it rain in Southern California. And while it’s still early days, it looks like a storm front could be brewing as Gallmore’s prep at Oxnard turns into a rain dance.