Antwaun Woods has joined forces with a one-time nemesis quarterback and reunited with an old coach.
In Indianapolis, Woods will be deployed under the watchful eye of defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus, previously the Cowboys’ linebackers coach from 2011-2017. He becomes new teammates with ex-Eagles rival Carson Wentz, whom the Colts acquired via trade in March.
His is the latest addition to a Colts front-seven that now features first-round rookie defensive end Kwity Paye as well as Pro Bowl DE DeForest Bucker and All-Pro linebacker Darius Leonard.
“The star of the defense is the defense — I learned that from Rod Marinelli — it’s all 11,” Colts general manager Chris Ballard said of Paye’s acquisition. “And when you continue to drop talent that plays with the effort that you want to play with, you’re just going to continue to ascend.”
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Woods was released by the Cowboys on May 5, less than two months after signing his one-year, $2.133 million restricted free-agent tender. He was among six players chopped by the club as it pared down its 90-man offseason roster.
Woods, 28, started 10 games and made 23 tackles for the Cowboys in 2020, receiving an uptick in snaps following the midseason release of defensive lineman Dontari Poe. His campaign was marred, however, by a December arrest for possession of marijuana over two ounces, tampering with evidence, and possession of paraphernalia.
“Woods played between 46 and 60 percent of the Cowboys’ defensive snaps in the games he played in between 2018-2020,” the Colts’ official website noted.
The 6-foot-1, 310-pound defender originally joined Dallas in 2018. He began his professional career with the Tennessee Titans, who signed him as a 2016 undrafted free agent out of USC.
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Moving On …
Many saw Woods’ release as inevitable; the Cowboys brought aboard two defensive linemen in free agency (Carlos Watkins, Brent Urban) and imported three others via the 2021 NFL Draft (third-rounders Osa Odighizuwa and Chauncey Golston, and sixth-rounder Quinton Bohanna).
Dallas is also high on 2019 second-round choice Trysten Hill and 2020 third-round selection Neville Gallimore, both of whom are expected to be key contributors in new DC Dan Quinn’s hybrid system.
“I would say it’s kind of a mixture because so much of the defense nowadays is played out of a nickel front,” Quinn said earlier this month of his base defense, via SI.com. “So, that’s more of a four-down of what you play. As far as in the base packages go, it will look more like a 3-4 look, and that would have been consistent whether it was the team last year or my times with Atlanta as well. But more often than not, with most teams, the nickel packages, which teams play, I’d say, close to 60% or 70% of the time are more out of a four-down.”
Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL