Cowboys Place Two Defensive Starters on Physically Unable to Perform List

Tyrone Crawford

Getty Tyrone Crawford

The Dallas Cowboys made a pair of procedural roster moves to open training camp Tuesday, sending defensive linemen Dontari Poe and Tyrone Crawford to the Physically Unable to Perform List, the team announced.

Poe, who signed a two-year, $10.5 million free-agent deal with Dallas, underwent quadriceps surgery last November while playing for the Carolina Panthers. He presumably passed a physical, pre-coronavirus, upon putting pen to paper.

When healthy, the former Chiefs standout is a highly adept run-plugger. Weighing a whopping 346 pounds, Poe has tallied 278 combined tackles (202 solo) while chipping in 20.5 sacks and 14 pass breakups across nine seasons. He started all 16 games in 2018 but the quad injury prematurely ended his 2019 campaign following 11 appearances. He was on pace to set a new career-high for tackles and sacks before going down.

Poe likely will split nose tackle duties with incumbent Antwaun Woods, who on Tuesday officially signed his exclusive rights free-agent tender.

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Trench Makeover

The Cowboys revamped their front-seven over the past several months, bringing aboard Poe, six-time Pro Bowler Gerald McCoy, and ex-49ers star edge rusher Aldon Smith. They also used a third-round pick on DT Neville Gallimore and a fifth-rounder on DE Bradlee Anae.

These, the countermoves after losing 2019 sack leader Robert Quinn (Chicago Bears), starting DT Maliek Collins (Las Vegas Raiders), and reserve lineman Christian Covington (Denver Broncos) in free agency.

This, the objective of new head coach Mike McCarthy, who aimed to beef up the interior for first-year defensive coordinator Mike Nolan after Dallas allowed 103.5 rushing yards per game in 2019, 11th-most in the NFL.

“They’re two damn good veteran football players,” McCarthy said of Poe and McCoy in May. “They definitely fit what we’re trying to do up front, inside. Our outlook on how you play defense is you still got to stop the run. Then you have two big guys that can pass rush too.”

Crawford’s Outlook

McCarthy’s plan also called for the club to retain DeMarcus Lawrence’s bookend and the Cowboys’ most overpaid player for 2020, per Bleacher Report. A former third-round pick, Crawford is entering the final year of the $45 million extension he inked in 2015, due to count $9.1 million against the salary cap.

Crawford’s 2019 campaign was cut short by dual hip injuries, which required corrective offseason surgery. But rather than declare him a pre-June 1 cut and save $8 million, Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones put his faith in the 30-year-old.

“We have every reason to believe he’s going to be productive,” Jones said in March, per the Dallas Morning News.

Crawford has tallied 113 tackles, 23 sacks and six pass deflections across 96 games with Dallas. He’s ticketed for an early-down role while ceding pass-rush snaps to McCoy, Smith, and Anae.

The league’s recently-agreed-to COVID-19 protocol grants players a 21-day acclimation period to begin camp, replete with continual testing, strength and conditioning exercises, and virtual meetings. The Cowboys’ first padded practice is scheduled to take place Aug. 17.

Crawford and Poe are eligible to be removed from the PUP list at any point.

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Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL