Last season the Cowboys' defense was one of the best in the NFL, but there was one glaring deficiency that needed addressing in the offseason- the need for playmakers.
Enter Bryant Westbrook, the former Pro Bowl cornerback of the Detroit Lions.
Westbrook, who was selected as the fifth overall pick of the NFL Draft in 1997, spent five years in the motor city. He was a solid cover corner his first four years in the league, but in November 2000, he ruptured an Achilles' tendon, forcing him to miss the first six games last season.
Once he returned to the gridiron, things just weren't the same. He didn't have the same 2nd gear to stay with the faster receivers in the league, and he just seemed to be out of the rhythm. That proved to be too much for the Lions, so they decided they weren't interested in resigning him.
And thats when the former Texas Longhorn came to Dallas in search of a fresh start.
And so far, that's exactly what he's gotten. "I like the Cowboys because they're a team on the rise," said Westbrook. "I didn't want to go anywhere else. I wanted to be here."
Westbrook, who was actually a pro-bowl performer just two years ago, has a world of upside.
Most scouts think of him as strong athlete that can get down-and-dirty with the opposing teams' top receiver, meaning he can handle the faster smaller guys, as well as the taller, more physical players.
Certainly, its no mystery that is exactly the type of football player that has been missing over the last few years on the defensive side of the ball for the Cowboys.
And fortunately, Westbrook has shown dramatic improvement in his on the field play since his arrival in Dallas.
Through the course of three mini-camps, he has consistently shown much more mobility and athleticism in one-on-one situations, and that will likely pay huge dividends for the Cowboys' defense this fall.
If you think about it, that makes sense, because it generally takes a full year to recover from torn Achillies injury. In fact, most athletes perform at a significantly lower level their first year back, but the second year is usually a different story.
This will be Westbrook's second year back in action. "I'm feeling a lot better right now," said Westbrook back in early May. "I'm moving around real good without any problems and I'm not showing any effects anymore from that injury. I'd say I'm above 90% now."
"We've been looking at him as the starting cornerback on the left side," said defensive coordinator Mike Zimmmer. "He'll have to battle it out in training camp, but right now he's looking pretty good."
One thing is for sure, if he continues to improve, and even if he were to regain half of his pro-bowl form of two years ago, the Cowboys' defense will be a lot better because of it.
Keep an eye on him this fall, he could be one of the most improved players in the league next year.
Westbrook Making a Strong Recovery
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