Hardy Still Packs a Punch

When the Dallas Cowboys reached a deal with former Jacksonville Jaguars' LB Kevin Hardy, it likely completed all the major free agent signings this offseason. But boy what an offseason it has been.

The additions of CB Bryant Westbrook and DT La'Roi Glover have already been well chronicled.

Both players have looked nothing short of fantastic while participating in most recent QB Schools at Valley Ranch. They've shown a great work ethic, a desire to compete, and outstanding athletic ability during their short tenure here in Dallas.

Kevin Hardy on the otherhand, has been a bit of a different story. Different only because he hasn't been able to go full speed just yet.

The former pro-bowl linebacker missed the final seven games of last season after tearing cartilage in his right knee, and even though he has been extremely limited since he's arrival in Dallas, he is expected to be ready for the start of training camp on July 26th.

"My rehab has been going great," said Hardy. All indications are that I'm going to be 100 percent recovered. I definitely plan to be ready for training camp. I feel like that's the most important thing."

In reality, Hardy will likely only help this team in the long run, considering the overall lack of success that Dallas has had in getting pressure on the quarterback from the linebacker position.

Maybe it's not entirely obvious to most fans, but Cowboy linebackers have made just one sack over the course of the last two seasons.

One sack- that's it.

Hardy himself has 28½ career sacks, including 10½ in 1999, when he was named as NFL All-Pro. Last season, he registered 5½ sacks in only nine games before going down with his knee injury.

"I feel like here in Dallas, I'll be put in a position where I can do what I like to do best - and that's put pressure on the quarterback and make plays," said Hardy.

And without question, the Cowboys' organization agrees.

"We've added a playmaker who can rush the passer, and we're going to use him in some unique situations to take advantage of those skills," said owner/manager Jerry Jones.

Hardy has played both the weakside and strongside positions during his career, and the Cowboys are planning on moving him all over the place to take advantage of his skills.

In fact, don't be suprised to see Hardy move down to the line on occasion and rush the passer exclusively as a defensive end. He certainly has the quickness and the strength to do it, and the coaching staff has already hinted around about it on several occasions.

"The opportunity to make plays and rush the passer is something I thrive on doing," Hardy said. "I was at my best in Jacksonville when I moved around on the defense and rushed the quarterback from different spots."

Make no mistake, Kevin Hardy will be awarded the opportunity to move around the field all season long, and if his knee holds up, he'll one of the key ingredients on this defense next season.

The Cowboys needed to find some players this offseason that could "force the issue" so to speak, and they've found two of them in La'Roi Glover and Kevin Hardy. In fact, with the additions of Bryant Westbrook and Roy Williams in the secondary, this defense is all of a sudden loaded with playmakers.

I won't be the first to tell that when you have a defense like that, you tend to put more pressure on the quarterback, defend the run a little better, and play with more confidence.

And that all adds up to more wins.

Hardy says that he'll be ready to go for the start of camp in San Antonio. It will be interesting to see if he's right, because if he is, this defense just got a whole lot better.

CowboysHQ Top Stories